In news that shocked the tennis world Friday morning, the International Tennis Integrity Agency announced that Simona Halep–two-time Grand Slam champion, former World #1, and 2022 Wimbledon semifinalist–has been provisionally banned for doping.
Halep, currently ranked World #9, makes for one of the highest-profile doping bans in tennis history. Maria Sharapova received a two-year ban in 2016, which was eventually reduced to 15 months. Sharapova was also ranked World #9 when she received the ban. Up-and-coming Dayana Yastremska was banned last year, and hasn’t been the same since her comeback.
Still, the Halep news is more shocking than Sharapova’s, particularly given the controversy surrounding Russian athletes and doping in general at the time the Sharapova news came down.
For her part, Halep has offered no defense or explanation. She released a statement that she is in complete shock and she will fight the ban. Fighting tennis bans has been difficult, but players have been somewhat successful in recent years.
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) October 21, 2022
Richard Gasquet famously successfully fought a positive test for cocaine by claiming that he didn’t take the substance–but instead was exposed when he kissed another woman at a club. A different sport, but Alberto Contador copied that defense to fight one of the many accusations against him. Yastremska had her ban overturned early last year as well, though she has not continued on the rise she experienced before the ban.
Halep is perhaps Romania’s most beloved sporting figure, and the outcome of whatever investigation and ban follows could have reverberations even outside of tennis. There is not much else for the tennis world to do at this time, other than to see what news and results come out moving forward.
Main Photo from Getty.