Simona Halep “I suffered the shock of my life, the rules were not respected with the blood sample”

Simona Halep, invited to Antena 3, said that during the doping trial at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, she suffered the shock of her life, after learning that the blood sample taken from her in Bucharest was kept without being she respects the rules and for this reason she was initially suspended for 4 years, writes Agerpres.

Simona Halep PHOTO: Getty Images

Halep revealed that she felt betrayed knowing that a mistake made by the laboratory in Romania could destroy her 25-year career.

“The problem with the blood came up. It was something very shocking… because after 6-7 months they came and told me that my blood was wrong, when all my blood tests were negative. No banned substance was ever found in my blood or tested positive. Absolutely never. I was so shocked when the blood thing came out that I didn't even realize the documents, where they came from, how they are. I was just talking to the lawyers. It was shocking to me that something was happening to my blood when everything was normal. I found out where the blood thing came from in Lausanne during the trial when I was in the room. The document with the blood appeared on the middle screens, but I didn't realize it. My brother came and told me to look that it is written in Romanian. And when I look at the screen there was the flag of Romania and on the right it said 'Bucureşti, Romania'. Then I had a moment when I couldn't actually say anything and I didn't understand how it was possible for me to be suspended for four years on a document from Romania. Then for me it was a shock, it is inexplicable. It's hard for me even now, I have a lot of emotions, because it was the biggest shock in my life. Let me know that the sample taken in Bucharest, when I am 10 minutes away from the laboratory, was tested without taking into account the storage rules. The blood was not kept at the correct temperature. It was two hours or so that my blood was at the wrong temperature. But even so, my blood sample was within normal values ​​and did not indicate any trace of doping. Of course, the people at the Lausanne court were also surprised that something like this could happen, especially since we were in the same city and very close to the laboratory. And I also expressed my disappointment there that a 25-year career can be destroyed through negligence, malice or simply because you do not respect the person you are testing. Such a thing cannot happen at such a high level. I was very disappointed and I am very disappointed. Therefore, returning to the word betrayal, I can say that this is what I felt. I never ask to be favored, but I really want some rules to be respected and to be tested properly. It is disappointing to see that this could not be respected here”said the player.

“The disappointment is enormous, but I am a person who does not take revenge. I'm not here tonight to punch anyone or express frustration. No, I accepted everything that was happening and I knew that good would win and it was proven that I did nothing and that there is no trace of doping in my blood. But I came to express my disappointment and I hope that something like this never happens to an athlete again because it is a very, very big trauma. Emotionally you are completely destroyed. I can say that at some point I lost my faith in good. But coming to the decision now, I want to believe in the good again. And I am very glad that I feel neither hatred nor revenge towards anyone. Mistakes were made, but on purpose it is much harder to accept this. And I think there was something strange about the blood. Yes, I say it”Halep added.

She said that at first, when she tested positive for roxadustat, she thought someone had put that substance in her glass.

“I thought for a moment that it might be the end of everything. Because four years would have meant a lot to me. But the most painful part was that I might not be able to prove the truth. That it's a system that doesn't seem to want to reach justice, the truth. But I didn't lose hope, especially when I received so many messages from people, I had a 'boost' of energy and I told myself that I will prove it. My parents taught me that good always wins, so I believed in it. When I found out in October 2022, I chose my legal team and the first thing was to ask for all the footage from the video cameras, where I went, where I stayed and who I met, everything, so that let's see if something happened. Because that first thought was when you know you didn't do anything: that someone hurt you. I didn't believe in malice, it was very hard for me to accept that someone would hurt me without me doing something… This first thought was, that someone put something in my glass or something… But I have not found anything. And then I was lucky that my lawyers said that there are many cases of contamination with supplements. And then I took everything I drank recently and sent it for testing. And that's how he found out”mentioned Halep.

The former world number 1 believes that everything that happened was due to the negligence of his team led by Patrick Mouratoglou, but he also blamed the contamination on bad luck: “I have always totally believed in the people I work with. And that's what I did when I got to the academy. Because you have to trust, you cannot work with doubts. We discussed that I had to change my supplements because they had too much sugar, we all agreed… and when they recommended this supplement to me, I asked many times if it was tested and if it was safe. I was told yes. More than that maybe I should have done… but no athlete personally goes to the lab to test the drinks because it's difficult, really. And then I trusted and took them. That was the thing about the supplement. It was negligence on the part of my team, because it was not checked as it should have been, but also my bad luck. Because he had nothing to look for that substance in the supplement. From what I understand, when this supplement is mixed, it is possible that something was left on the blender and then the contamination appears. So I'm convinced that they didn't do it with bad intentions. It was a simple mistake and that's it. Many athletes were found positive because they ate meat and proved their innocence. So contamination can occur from anywhere. Mouratoglou admitted his mistake since October 2022, everyone from the academy then signed some forms that they recommended those supplements to me. Those forms were not made public, but the London court knew”.

“It was the battle of my life, 100%. It was a very big stress that I feel now. I feel my body and mind being released. It was incredibly difficult to see how you were judged, for a four-year suspension, on the scripts. Because they had nothing concrete on my blood. I am very glad that the judges in Lausanne judged correctly and excluded this blood doping. There was no such thing. Now I can say that it was the biggest victory of my life. It was an enormous victory, as if even at the Grand Slam it wasn't so emotionally strong. It's strange, because these two days I experienced enormous joy for something I didn't do. I don't know what to say to the accused. It's just that it could be done better, that is, to check those supplements better. But it's human to make mistakes, I don't hate anyone. I have forgiven, yes, I have reached this level. Of course you can't forget certain traces and certain traumas, but I work on them to heal them because I want to live beautifully, because I have a life ahead of me”she also said.

“The fear is quite big, because no matter how long I've been training, it's not like when you play an official match. I have never been away from the pitch for so long and I am afraid of what it will be like. But it is an assumed fear. Not for a moment did I think of withdrawing in the present situation. I want to come back as much as I can, I don't want to impose goals on myself. But my goal is to be in the top again, I'm allowed to believe and have hope”Halep pointed out.

“The CAS appeal procedure involved intensive trials and a three-day hearing that took place between February 7 and 9 in Lausanne. The TAS Commission interviewed numerous experts and witnesses, most of whom were physically present at the hearing. The panel unanimously determined that the four-year period of ineligibility imposed by the ITF's independent tribunal be reduced to nine months, starting on 7 October 2022, which expired on 6 July 2023. As the period expired before the appeal was lodged at the TAS, the full TAS decided that it is appropriate to issue the order as soon as possible, together with a comprehensive press release”it is stated in the TAS press release.

Simona Halep had been suspended for a period of four years for doping, on September 12, 2023, by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA). The ITIA said at the time that an independent tribunal had suspended the former world leader for two separate violations of the Tennis Anti-Doping Program (TADP).

Simona Halep sued the Canadian company that produced the nutritional supplements because of which she believes she tested positive and was suspended for four years for doping.

Halep is seeking more than $10 million in damages from Quantum Nutrition, which makes Schinoussa Superfoods, after testing positive for roxadustat at the 2022 US Open.