Former World No. 1 Simona Halep is currently under a provisional suspension from competition after testing positive for the banned substance roxadustat during this year's US Open. Roxadustat is an anti-anaemia drug which stimulates the production of haemoglobin and red blood cells in the body.
The double Grand Slam champion has since described the failed drugs test as a 'huge shock', insisting that she had no idea she had taken anything on the banned substances list and vowing to clear her name.
Since the revelation, much of the tennis world has come out in defence of the Romanian, a well-respected stalwart of the tour who has never been embroiled in controversy of this nature before.
Steve Simon recently joined that chorus of opinion. Speaking to The Associated Press, Simon explained that he believes Halep's assertion that this was entirely unintentional.
"I believe her that she didn’t intentionally do something here. That being said, I do believe very strongly in our anti-doping program, and I think it’s a good one, and our players support it, too. And if you ask Simona, she supports it,” Simon said. “I’m very confident that as we go through the process, the truth is going to come out, and we will deal with it accordingly. But I have a lot of sympathy for Simona, because I would never question her integrity.”
Simon was also keen to stress that he values the integrity of the WTA's anti-doping program highly, implying that he believes the banned substance was indeed in Halep's system during the final Grand Slam of the year.
Whatever the case, the former Wimbledon champion will have to attend a tribunal in which she can sufficiently prove that the substance was ingested unintentionally.
The stakes are high. Should Halep should not be able to prove this, the worst-case scenario would be a four year ban. Stay tuned.