'Halep case will encourage doping': BBC commentators rip into Simona's case in incendiary podcast

Whoever insists even now that the world should have blindly believed in the innocence of Simona Halep (32 years old) after the first verdict, announced by Sport Resolutions and argued with a 126-page justification (!), would do well to allocate 30 of minutes to listen to the discussions around the topic in the latest episode of “The Tennis Podcast”.

After the doping case in which Halep was involved, many questions remain unanswered

Because here, the three Britons, the presenters Catherine Whitaker and David Law, plus their guest, Matthew Roberts, all in the position of neutral observers, were shocked by what happened in the case of Halep. Specifically, we are talking about what “The Truth” has been reporting since last week, namely the fact that two different courts, Sport Resolutions and the Court of Arbitration for Sport, looked at the same set of evidence and came to diametrically opposed conclusions ! Hence, the colossal difference that existed between the two verdicts: a suspension of 4 years, reduced to only 9 months on appeal!

“This case destroyed my trust in the system”

The first to speak, after Catherine Whitaker's introduction with the chronology of the case, was David Law. We are talking about a very respected name in the tennis commentary world with over 20 years of experience. Since 2002, Law has been commentating on Grand Slam tournaments for the BBC and BT Sport. Also, for 12 years he handled the communication part of the ATP 500 category tournament, The Queen's Championships.

Asked what he thought of the Halep case, David Law began his speech with a long sigh. “Frustration. That's what I feel, first of all. Two courts analyze identical evidence. The first one gives a suspension of 4 years, while a 6-year one was requested, and the second comes and reduces it to 9 months. How can we be in such a situation after all this time?! Where two courts see the same evidence and evaluate it in such different ways… For me, this case destroyed my faith in this system. I don't know how I can trust the verdicts he provides anymore. I feel like a naïve now when I remember that I trusted the first decision after that long process (no – from Sport Resolutions). A verdict that could be changed so drastically on appeal…David Law began his response to Catherine Whitaker.

Furthermore, Law pointed out that, because of this anomaly, Simona ended up being on the hook for 9 months longer than she should have.

Perhaps the ITIA decision (no – Sport Resolutions, actually) was closer to the truth. Maybe the TAS decision is the right one. I do not know. The difference between the two decisions is so great that I don't know what to think. I've seen cases where the first instance penalty was reduced on appeal, but I've never seen such a big difference after the appeal! And I don't know where we go from here… How can we get a solid system that catches cheaters in sports without producing collateral casualties? And I don't mean Halep here. But what I see about Halep is that, after the TAS decision, she was suspended for 9 months longer than she should have been. Because he was on the hook for 18 months, actually. What should I think after such a situation?!“.

Catherine Whitaker, David Law and Matt Roberts = The Tennis Podcast

Catherine Whitaker, David Law and Matt Roberts = The Tennis Podcast

“ITIA wanted to make a name for itself with the Halep case”

Continuing the dialogue, Matt Roberts, another regular at the Grand Slam tournaments, offered his perspective on the Halep case. The opinion expressed by him strengthened another situation about which “Adevărul” spoke, last week, during an exclusive interview with the lawyer Cristian Cernodolea. Namely the fact that ITIA wanted to be in the foreground by the drastic sentence dictated against the player from Romania.

You can hardly trust this system anymore. We have already had so many cases where the original verdict was radically changed on appeal. It's a matter that has happened too many times. ITIA is a newly established organization compared to WADA (no – World Anti-Doping Agency) and TAS. And the general impression is that they want to catch someone. They want to make a name for themselves. And Halep was probably that name. But many said that based on the evidence, Halep never deserved the 4-year ban handed down by the first court. Moreover, behind the scenes, many players were on Simona's side. Because all athletes take supplements and have realized that they too can end up in such a situation due to a contaminated supplement. Then there was this anomaly about the length of the trial. In other sports, there are clear provisions on how long such procedures can take. Not so in tennis. That is why the Halep case came to the attention of the PTPA (no – Association of Professional Players). Because, in Simona's case, time cannot be turned back (no – with reference to the 9-month suspension which, in fact, turned into 18 months, how long the first verdict and then the appeal trial)Matt Roberts said.

He, in turn, took up the idea expressed by David Law, namely the fact that the Halep file now represents a “stain” big for everything the anti-doping system means.

Perhaps ITIA has exaggerated in this Halep case. But frankly, as an observer, when I read the rationale for the first suspension, with all the scientific evidence, I found the ITIA case to be solid, comprehensive and convincing. That's why, when you see that the appeal reached such a different decision, then you realize that the whole system is very broken! And that some things should fundamentally change, regarding the way these tennis doping cases are judgedMatt Roberts added.

The extremely serious conclusion was drawn by Catherine Whitaker: “With such a system, surely doping will be even more widespread in the future. When things are so messed up, how can we actually find out who has doped and who hasn't?!“.

Hearing this remark from his colleague, David Law came up with an ironic proposition: “Honestly now, can we get some TAS and ITIA officials in the same room and keep them locked up there until they come to a conclusion? Until they realize what is allowed by the regulation and what doping means? And what the punishments should be… Well, now I'm really thinking like a naïve“.