Simona Halep: Two-time grand slam champion cleared for tennis return as four-year doping ban reduced

CNNFormer tennis world No. 1 Simona Halep has been cleared to return to the sport after having a backdated four-year ban reduced to nine months, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced Tuesday.

The two-time grand slam winner was handed the ban in September 2023 after being found guilty of anti-doping rule violations by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Independent Tribunal.

“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 period expired on 6 July 2023,” CAS said in a media release released Tuesday.

In the media release, the CAS Panel stated that Halep’s “anti-doping rule violations were not intentional.”

Halep said she cannot wait to return to the tour after the “truth prevailed.”

“Throughout this long and difficult process, I have maintained my belief that the truth would eventually come out, and that a just decision would be reached, because I am and always have been a clean athlete,” Halep said in a statement obtained by CNN.

“My faith in the process was tested by the scandalous accusations that were leveled against me, and by the seemingly unlimited resources that were aligned against me. But in the end, the truth prevailed, even if it took much longer than I wish it had.”


Halep tested positive for banned substance Roxadustat at the at the 2022 US Open.

“Having carefully considered all the evidence put before it, the CAS Panel determined that Ms. Halep had established, on the balance of probabilities, that the Roxadustat entered her body through the consumption of a contaminated supplement which she had used in the days shortly before 29 August 2022 and that the Roxadustat, as detected in her sample, came from that contaminated product.

“As a result, the CAS Panel determined that Ms. Halep had also established, on the balance of probabilities, that her anti-doping rule violations were not intentional.”

Roxadustat is listed on the 2022 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List. According to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), it is a class of drug called HIF-stabilizing agents and can increase an athlete’s red blood cell count and boost endurance performance.

The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) also announced in September that Halep was being charged with having irregularities in her Athlete Biological Passport (ABP), which is designed to monitor an athlete’s selected biological variables over time. CAS dismissed that charge.

Before the CAS ruling on Tuesday, the ITIA had said that Halep’s suspension would run from October 7, 2022, until October 6, 2026.

“An essential element of the anti-doping process is a player’s ability to appeal, and the ITIA respects both their right to do so, and the outcome,” ITIA CEO Karen Moorhouse said on Tuesday.

“We await the full reasoned decision and will review it thoroughly in due course.”

CNN’s George Ramsay and Jill Martin contributed to this report.