Australian tennis coach, Darren Cahill, has thrown his support for Simona Halep, saying there is no way she knowingly took a banned substance.
Two-time grand slam winner Halep was provisionally suspended by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) after testing positive for Roxadustat. It is a prohibited anti-anemia drug that was recently approved by the European Union for medical use.
The ITIA said the sample was returned during the US Open, where the Romanian was beaten in the first round by Ukrainian Daria Snigur.
During her provisional suspension, Halep will be ineligible to compete or attend any sanctioned events.
If found guilty by the World Anti-Doping Agency, she faces a ban of up to four years.
Currently ranked ninth in the WTA, the former world number one said in a statement that being notified of positive test was “the biggest shock of my life” and she will fight to prove she never knowingly took any prohibited substance.
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) October 21, 2022
Along with others in the tennis world, Halep’s former coach Darren Cahill backed Halep and called her integrity “faultless”.
“Firstly, and most importantly, there is NO chance Simona knowingly or purposely took any substance on the banned list. None. Zero,” he wrote in an Instagram post.
“We both believe in the ITIA testing program and would often discuss the number of times she was tested, both at tournaments and randomly.
“She did it without complaint, with the reassurance of knowing other athletes were being tested just as frequently. Competing against clean athletes was important to her.
“Simona’s integrity is faultless, she respects her peers, she loves the game and she always has her feet firmly planted on the ground as a humble, approachable champion.
Cahill coached Simona Halep for six years during which she won the 2018 French Open and became the number one player in the world. She was the first Romanian woman to reach number one in the world, holding the ranking from October 2017 to January 2019.