Former No. 1-ranked player Simona Halep was provisionally suspended by the International Tennis Integrity Agency after failing a drug test during the U.S. Open last month.
The ITIA announced the suspension on Friday for Halep, a two-time Grand Slam champion who is currently No. 9 in the WTA rankings. She won the French Open in 2018 and Wimbledon in 2019, beating 23-time major champion Serena Williams in the final.
Halep, a 31-year-old from Romania, who recently announced she was taking the rest of this season off after having nose surgery to improve her breathing.
She was seeded No. 7 at the U.S. Open when she lost to Daria Snigur of Ukraine 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 on Aug. 30.
The ITIA said Halep tested positive for the banned substance Roxadustat, a drug approved for medical use in the European Union to treat the symptoms of anemia caused by chronic kidney failure.
According to the EU’s medicines agency, which approved Roxadustat last year, it stimulates the body to produce more of the natural hormone erythropoietin, or EPO, which has long been a doping product favored by cyclists and distance runners.
During a provisional suspension, a tennis player is ineligible to compete in, or attend, any sanctioned events.
Under the World Anti-Doing Code, Halep faces a ban of up to four years for a positive test for a substance like Roxadustat. Athletes can earn a reduction in their ban, likely to three years, if they quickly admit an offense and accept their sanction.
Tennis authorities will handle Halep’s case and any ruling can be challenged by the World Anti-Doping Agency in an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
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