Simona Halep is currently banned from competing on the professional circuit, but that hasn't stopped her from hitting the tennis courts during practice.
Halep was infamously slapped with a four-year doping ban by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) following a ruling by an independent tribunal last Septemeber in which she was culpable of breaching the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP).
Indeed, the Romanian became the first high-profile tennis player in recent years to receive a protracted sanction from the umbrella body with the directive of protecting and safeguarding the integrity of professional tennis.
Halep consumed contaminated collagen, which was recommended to her by her ex-coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. Following random in-competition testing at the 2022 US Open, the banned substance, Roxadustat, was found in her sample.
It was later ruled that there was "illicit blood manipulation" on her part, as Roxadustat is considered a blood doping agent by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Halep was also charged with irregularities in her athlete's biological passport.
The former World No. 1 has vehemently denied any wrongdoing on her part and has contested the severity of the punishment levied on her. At 32, Halep knows she will run out of time to play tennis again if she completes the four-year suspension period.
Therefore, she has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), with a hearing scheduled for next month. The two-time Grand Slam champion aims to salvage her career as she dreams of representing her country at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The odds are stacked against Halep, but she is confident of at least reducing the length of the sanction, something that happened to her former rival Maria Sharapova, who appealed her two-year doping ban in 2016 and was later reduced to 15 months.
In the meantime, Halep was actively training on tennis courts and regularly updated her fans on Instagram with videos and pictures of her training sessions. She is preparing not only to return to the tour should CAS overturn her ban, but also to play in an exhibition in Romania in June.
Halep has reportedly relocated to the United Arab Emirates and currently lives in Dubai, where he has been utilizing the facilities and the premises of the Aviation Club Tennis Centre, which is the home of the Dubai Tennis Championships tournament.