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Tennis champion Simona Halep ‘refuses to accept’ four-year doping ban

(Ben Curtis/AFP via Getty Images)

Simona Halep is set to appeal the four-year doping ban she received from the International Tennis Integrity Agency.

The ITIA announced the ban Tuesday, citing two anti-doping rule violations. The suspension runs until Oct. 6, 2026. Halep had been provisionally suspended since last October after testing positive for Roxadustat, a banned blood-booster, at last year’s US Open.

In a statement, Halep said that she “refused to accept” the decision, and that she would appeal to sport’s highest court.

“I am continuing to train and do everything in my power to clear my name of these false allegations and return to the court,” Halep said. “I intend to appeal this decision to The Court of Arbitration for Sport and pursue all legal remedies against the supplement company in question.”

A two-time Grand Slam champion and former world No. 1, Halep famously bested Serena Williams in the 2019 Wimbledon final. With the win, she kept Williams from winning her eighth Wimbledon title and her 24th Grand Slam singles title.

Williams, who retired in 2022 with seven Wimbledon titles and 23 major singles titles to her name, seemingly responded to Halep’s suspension Tuesday on social media.

“8 is a better number,” she wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Williams’ husband Alexis Ohanian also responded indirectly to the ITIA ruling.

“Some fashion is timeless,” he wrote, alongside a photo of himself in a “D.A.R.E.” anti-drug shirt at one of Williams’ matches.

“Seriously not out of style,” Williams replied.

An independent tribunal sat through two days of evidence from scientific experts and sifted through 8,000 pages of evidence and testimony from Halep. While the tribunal accepted Halep’s argument that she had taken a contaminated supplement, the volume ingested could not have resulted in the concentration of roxadustat found in her positive sample, the tribunal concluded.

“Today, a tribunal under the tennis anti-doping program announced a tentative decision in my case,” Halep wrote in response to the ban. “The last year has been the hardest match of my life, and unfortunately my fight continues.

“I have devoted my life to the beautiful game of tennis. I take the rules that govern our sport very seriously and take pride in the fact I have never knowingly or intentionally used any prohibited substance.”