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NEW DELHI: In a big decision on Tuesday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) reduced the four-year doping ban initially imposed on Romanian tennis player Simona Halep to nine months. Importantly, these nine months have already been served by the former world number one.
Halep, aged 32, had received a four-year suspension from the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) in September of the previous year.This decision was based on two separate doping infractions that occurred in the preceding year.
Halep, a two-time Grand Slam singles champion, appealed to CAS in February, asserting that the positive test resulted from a “contaminated product.” She also argued that anomalies in her biological passport could be linked to surgery she had undergone.
With the reduction of the ban to nine months, and considering the time Halep has already served, she is now eligible to resume her professional tennis career. This decision by CAS provides a significant reprieve for the Romanian player, allowing her to return to competitive action sooner than initially anticipated.
“The CAS Panel has unanimously determined that the four-year period of ineligibility imposed by the ITF Independent Tribunal is to be reduced to a period of ineligibility of nine months starting on 7 October 2022, which expired on 6 July 2023,” CAS said in a statement.
Halep’s career has been on hold since October 7, 2022, the date of the start of her provisional suspension after testing positive for Roxadustat at the US Open.
Roxadustat is a substance known for its legitimate use in treating anaemia. However, it is also listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) banned substances list due to its classification as a blood-doping agent. This categorisation arises from its ability to increase haemoglobin levels and stimulate the production of red blood cells.
Halep maintains her innocence, asserting that she unknowingly took a contaminated supplement. She has expressed the desire to clear her name and challenge the ITIA decision.
The use of biological passport systems in monitoring athletes’ blood indicators is aimed at identifying irregularities that may suggest doping practices.
As the case unfolds, Halep’s protestations and the expert findings supporting her claim of accidental consumption of a contaminated supplement will likely play a crucial role in determining the resolution of the matter.
(With AFP inputs)


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