Simona Halep says she is 'shocked' by the independent tribunal's verdict, but reiterates her innocence in her first public interview since her official four-year doping ban was confirmed.
A group of journalists piled up outside Halep's residence in Romania following the groundbreaking news of her four-year suspension from the Tour for testing positive od a banned substance - roxadustat. After months of waiting, it was the most disconcerting news the Romanian star could have thought of.
Halep is not going to rest on her laurels and promised to appeal the decision at the Court of Arbitration of Sport. Responding to the reporters, the 31-year-old maintained her stance - she had never taken any banned substances. Halep admits she was shocked to get the news of the ban, and vows to prove her innocence.
"Shocked, I can say, it’s very unfair what is happening, I have never taken any prohibited substances and all of it will be proven one day. I will let the experts to discuss because they know better what happened and I am sure one day I will prove I am innocent and I am clean.
Halep has received public backing not just from the tennis fraternity, but from a key ally in the whole ordeal. Jean-Claude Alvarez, an expert who analyzed samples of Halep's hair was convinced the Romanian was innocent. Alvarez claims the collagen powder contained traces of roxadustat which were so minute in quantity that he concluded she was contaminated.
Halep adds that the judgment was based on assumptions rather than concrete facts, clarifying that all her blood samples came back negative for any banned substances, with only the urine test taken after the US Open found to have violated the anti-doping rules.
"Everything that happened was unfair, on every level. I am very disappointed and I can tell I am shocked that someone can judge a sport person just by supposing and not based on concrete facts. All my blood tests were negative and there has never been found a prohibited substance in them."
"There was only one urine test on 29th of August 2022 with a very small amount of roxadustat and that was it. Now I have to get to CAS , I will appeal that decision that from my point of view is not right and I hope the truth will come out one day and I will fight until the end to prove it."