Simona Halep gets ITIA proposal after slamming delayed doping hearing
Simona Halep has received a response from the International Tennis Integrity Agency after hitting out over her latest postponed hearing. It comes just days after the ITIA announced that Halep received a second anti-doping charge in relation to her Athlete Biological Passport. The two-time Major champion was provisionally suspended in October after testing positive for the banned substance Roxadustat in a separate change.
The ITIA has confirmed that Halep’s latest independent hearing was delayed in order to allow both of her anti-doping charges to be heard at the same time. The former world No 1 was set to have her case heard at the end of May but announced that it was postponed in a blunt statement on Monday night.
In response, the ITIA said: “We have proposed that both charges are heard together to avoid multiple hearings. To do this, we wish to provide all parties (including the independent tribunal) sufficient time to consider the significant materials associated with the latest charge.
“Ultimately it is a decision for the independent tribunal. Ms Halep also has the opportunity to make her representations to them.” It comes after the former Wimbledon champion accused the ITIA of acting in a way contrary to her rights.
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“I am once again extremely shocked and disappointed by the ITIA’s attitude,” Halep wrote in a statement released on Monday. “While the ITIA via their representative Nicole Sapstead was publicly stating three days ago that the ITIA ‘has remained committed to engaging Mrs Halep in an empathetic, efficient and timely manner’, they were at the same time officially requesting the tribunal to delay my hearing… for the third time.
“The ITIA publicly states one thing while privately doing another, I have repeatedly asked for my hearing and the ITIA has repeatedly sought to delay it. When is it going to stop? I ask the question once again. I am entitled to a quick hearing. Acting this way is contrary to my rights.”
On Friday, the ITIA announced that Halep had received a second anti-doping charge. “The additional charge of an Adverse Passport Finding was based on an assessment of Ms. Halep’s ABP profile by an independent ABP Expert Panel. That charge is separate and in addition to the existing Roxadustat charge from August 2022 which triggered Ms. Halep’s original provisional suspension,” the body said in a statement.
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Under the APB programme, anti-doping organisations monitor an athlete’s various blood parameters over time in order to identify potential anti-doping violations. Halep has already responded to the second charge, accusing the ITIA of harassment.
“Since October 7, when I got charged by the ITIA for a suspicion of doping, I have lived the worst nightmare I have ever gone through in my life,” the Romanian tennis star wrote on Friday, shortly after the second charge was announced.
“Not only has my name been soiled in the worst possible way, but I am facing a constant determination from the ITIA for a reason that I cannot understand, to prove my guilt while I haven’t EVER even thought of taking any illicit substance.”
She added: “I tried two times to have the opportunity to be judged by an Independent Tribunal and the ITIA has constantly found reasons to postpone.
“Now that we have clearly established that I have been victim of a contamination, they came up with a so-called not normal evolution of my blood. Three world renowned experts that have studied my blood tests have been extremely clear that my blood is totally normal.” Halep has continued to maintain that she never knowingly ingested any banned substances, and made the point clear in her statement.
“I feel helpless facing such harassment and a motivation on their behalf to prove me guilty of something I never did. Once again, all my life I have been totally against any sort of cheating. It doesn’t align with my values,” she said. “The only thing I hope for, at this point, is to have the possibility to finally access the independent and impartial judges in a Tribunal, that will give me the chance to prove my innocence.”
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