Halep has chance at escaping drugs ban as star ruled out of Aus Open

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Simona Halep has taken an important step towards clearing her name after failing a drugs test during the US Open. The former world No 1 was ‘provisionally suspended’ after returning a positive test for banned substance Roxadustat and has now been ruled out of the Australian Open after her name was absent from the entry list, but she could have the chance to appeal her suspension after reportedly finding the source of the banned substance.

At the end of October the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) announced that Halep had been provisionally suspended following a failed drugs test, taken during the US Open. The 31-year-old’s A sample contained Roxadustat – a drug which helps increase the production of red blood cells – with the finding confirmed in her B sample, and is now “ineligble to compete in or attend any sanctioned tennis events organised by the governing bodies of the sport” during her suspension.

Following the news, the two-time Grand Slam champion vowed to fight to clear her name, and could now be one step closer to having her drugs ban removed as she was reportedly able to find the source of the Roxadustat in a supplement that was incorrectly labelled. 

Cristian Jura, a Romanian judge serving with the Court of Arbitration for Sport confirmed the news to ProSport, revealing: “It seems that the method by which Roxadustat entered the athlete’s body has been identified, namely by ingesting a contaminated food supplement.

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“Contaminated product is a product that contains a prohibited substance, without this being specified on the product label or in information accessible through a reasonable search on the Internet.” Jura also added: “The athlete is still at this moment between the lifting of the suspension, i.e. the removal of any sanctions, and the 4-year suspension from sports activity.”

To reduce or remove her suspension entirely, Halep must be able to “establish very clearly the way in which the substance entered the body” and prove her “lack of intention to take the prohibited substance to improve sports performance.” The Romanian has now established how the banned substance got into her body, but must prove that she “did not know or suspect and could not reasonably have known or suspected, even by exercising the most careful caution, that she used or was administered prohibited substances or that he used prohibited methods.”

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Jura confirmed that the current world No 10 had a shot at removing her suspension, but noted: “Procedurally, there are several stages. First, there’s a preliminary hearing before the International Tennis Integrity Agency.

“At this stage it is possible to lift the athlete’s provisional suspension, taking into account the evidence that she ingested a contaminated supplement. But I would make an important clarification. Just as it is possible to lift the provisional suspension, so it can be maintained, very much depends on the evidence.”

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