Simona Halep's appeal to the CAS against the 4-year suspension for doping, dictated by the ITIA, on September 12, 2023, ended on Friday in Lausanne. The former WTA world number 1 is now waiting for the decision of the judges, who can maintain or increase her punishment, or reduce it, depending on the arguments presented at the hearings by the three main defenders to whom the Romanian appealed.
Simona Halep hired her most praised doping lawyer. Photo EPA EFE
Simona Halep was represented at the appeal by her lawyer, Bogdan Stoica, as well as by a famous American lawyer, Howard Jacobs, who has extensive experience in defending top athletes facing doping problems. The overseas pundit mentions on its website that around 75% of those suspended received reduced suspensions, the biggest names being Maria Sharapova and Mario Cilic. Simona also turned to the French expert Jean-Claude Alvarez, specialist in pharmacology, toxicology and biology.
In her attempt to prove her innocence, the Romanian took out a lot of money from her pocket. Both for complying with TAS procedures and especially for his team's fees. Let's take them one at a time. The panel of 3 mediators of the Court of Arbitration is paid by the parties involved in the process: ITIA and Simona Halep, who sued each other.
Simona and ITIA each chose a judge
The athlete from Constanța had the right to choose a judge on the TAS list, and Halep nominated the American Jeffrey Benz, a former figure skater who was part of the jury of the Sports Tribunal at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2022, which allowed the Russian figure skater 15-year-old Kamila Valieva to compete despite a positive test before the start of the competition.
The second was chosen by the ITIA, which turned to German law professor Ulrich Haas, an uncompromising fighter against doping. He advised the World Anti-Doping Agency, edited and published a series of specialized works, being involved in the drafting of the World Anti-Doping Code. Ulrich Haas was, according to WalesOnline, co-author of a bombshell report in 2015 which revealed the extent of doping in cycling. The president of the board was Annabelle Bennett from Australia, a specialist among other things in biochemistry, so an expert in contamination with supplements, a defense invoked by Simone's team.
Judges, paid 200 francs an hour
The three, who are judging Halep's situation from scratch, disregarding the previous case at the Sport Resolutions tribunal, are paid by the hour by the parties involved in the case. Românca and ITIA must cover the administrative costs for a mediation, raised to 1,000 Swiss francs (1,070 euros), but also the judges' fees, of 200 Swiss francs per hour (215 euros/hour). In total, there were 26 hours of hearings in the 3 days the trial lasted. The amount is determined by the general director of TAS based on the work performed by the mediator and on the basis of the time reasonably allocated to his task.
TAS mediators are paid an hourly rate of 200 Swiss francs, excluding VAT, according to the website of the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Judges can request reimbursement for plane tickets, train tickets or car travel, hotel accommodation in a superior category – up to a maximum of 350 Swiss francs/night (375 euros/night), meals – a maximum of 150 Swiss francs/night day (160 euros/day), but also other expenses, for telephone, fax, mail, photocopying or other secretarial expenses, up to a maximum of 200 Swiss francs (215 euros). The panel may order the parties to contribute to any additional costs related to the hearing of witnesses and experts.
He is eligible to play starting in 2026
If at TAS the sums spent by Simona Halep are not impressive – the Romanian nevertheless collected more than 40 million euros only from contests throughout her career -, as regards the payment of hired experts, things are different. There is no information on the fees charged by lawyers to their clients involved in doping cases.
A single clue comes from Ion Țiriac, who said a long time ago: “I told Miss Halep that if she doesn't put 5 million dollars on the table for one or two lawyers to sue ITIA for 100 million … she goes to the CAS and she doesn't have much hope.” Probably, Simona was not charged so drastically by Howard Jacobs, but the total sums that he will pay to the three main characters who defended her in the doping process are close to one million euros, according to some rumors.
The Romanian tested positive for Roxadustat on October 7, 2022, during the US Open 2022, and irregularities were found in her biological passport. Halep asked the TAS that the decision of the ITIA be annulled and her sanction be reduced. If he is successful and only takes 2 years, then he can return to the field in October this year. If the penalty is maintained, Simona would have the right to play starting from October 2026.