Simona Halep’s former coach has jumped to her defense after the world No.1 tested positive for a banned substance at the US Open earlier this year.
According to the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA), Halep tested positive for Roxadustat, which is a banned substance on the 2022 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.
The two-time Grand Slam champion, who has been provisionally suspended, denied taking the particular banned substance and vowed to clear his name.
He has since been given a vote of confidence by Darren Cahill, his former coach with whom he worked for six years.
In a lengthy post on her Instagram account on Sunday, Halep said there was “no way” she had deliberately taken a banned substance.
“He’s an athlete who stressed about anything a medical professional prescribed (which was rare), or any supplement he used or considered,” he wrote, along with a photo of the two.
“Simona wore the words ‘please check this, triple check this to make sure it’s legal, safe and authorized’. If you’re not sure, I won’t take it.”
Halep was notified of the breach on October 7 and exercised her right to request an analysis of the B sample, which confirmed the finding of the A sample.
According to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Roxadustat belongs to a class of drugs called HIF stabilizing agents.
“Athletes can use these products to increase their red blood cell count, which is a highly effective doping technique that increases oxygen to working muscles to increase endurance performance,” USADA said on its website.
The 31-year-old will not be able to compete or compete in tennis events organized by the sport’s governing bodies while he is suspended.
“Simona’s integrity is impeccable, she respects her peers, loves the game and always has her feet firmly planted on the ground as a humble and approachable champion,” added Cahill.
“I have sat proudly in awe of the person he has grown to see the compassion he has shown to others.
“I’m not talking about the things that the tennis world sees, I’m talking about the kindness and attention that very few are lucky enough to experience. Actions done for love and not for publicity.
“Honesty has always been his greatest strength and his greatest weakness. We would often laugh that he can’t act and can’t tell a little white lie.
“Ask him a question at a press conference and he’ll give an honest answer. He wears his mood on his shoulders for the world to see, for better or for worse. That’s Simo.
“What you see is what you get. He built an amazing career and legacy by doing things the hard way. The right way.”
Halep almost retired in 2021, but said she fell in love with tennis this year.
She was knocked out of the first round of this year’s US Open in August, losing in three sets to world number 124 Daria Snigur.
Halep won her first grand slam at the French Open in 2018 and her second at Wimbledon in 2019.
Confirming the results of the doping test in a statement on social media, Halep said “today begins the hardest match of my life: the fight for the truth”.
According to The Guardian, her new coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, later reacted to her statement on her Instagram stories: “I support you 100% in this fight Simona. All the way.”