SMH at Halep’s suspension


SIMONA HALEP has been banned from tennis for four years for using the substance called Roxadustat in particular.

Besides testing positive for Roxadustat, an independent tribunal found her guilty of irregularities in her athlete biological passport, the electronic record of biological markers and doping test results.

Halep was flagged during a doping test at the 2022 US Open; just a little over a year ago. She has denied using it and has said that she ingested Roxadustat unknowingly.

Looking back at some of the high profile doping cases, when Andre Agassi turned up positive for methamphetamine use in 1997, he blamed it on a spiked drink.

French tennis player Richard Gasquet laughably attributed his turning up positive for cocaine use to being exposed when he kissed a female at a nightclub.

Martina Hingis tested positive for the drug Benzoylecgonine that has traces to cocaine. Hingis denied using cocaine, and a resulting private drug test showed a negative result. A private drug test. Hmm. Then she retired (before making a return later).

And prior to Halep, Maria Sharapova failed a test for meldonium. She claimed that she used the prescription drug for over 10 years and that meldonium was only placed on the banned substances list in 2016.

When people are caught for these infractions, they always say that they do not know anything about it. Maybe they are telling the truth. Maybe not. Ignorance is bliss…but at the end of it all, ignorance is outright costly. Damn, it’s costly.

Like us ordinary folk, if we are prescribed something to take for whatever condition we have, we do not take the time to figure out what the substances are. We just take them.

However, for professional athletes, they should be more circumspect knowing about doping in sports. Granted that some of their conditions were there as youngsters…but still.

And sometimes, ignorance is the best defense. Not knowing means you aren’t lying.  Now, the onus is on their managers and agents or even families to be on top of that.

I think what sports federations and athletes should do is introduce that biological passport early in their careers to prevent misuse and cheating.

Yes, people constantly look for that minute competitive edge; I get that, but really…I would draw the line at cheating.

Honestly, I am disappointed in Halep. I am a fan of hers just to be very clear. I watch her matches as much as I can and root for this Romanian tennis player. And to think the ban takes effect on the eve of her 32nd birthday.

If her purported appeal is unsuccessful, this pretty much ends her career. Because she will be 36 by then; way past her prime.

It’s terrible. Simona is a former two-time Women’s Tennis Association Most Popular Player of the Year. She is the most popular Romanian star since gymnast Nadia Comaneci. How Romanians or even sports fans view her now… I don’t know. Personally, I do feel bad.

And to add more to the shame, the International Tennis Integrity Agency has asked for the disqualification of Halep’s results from March 8 to October 7, 2022.

I remember when Sharapova was suspended—all of a sudden you had people calling her a cheat. That has to hurt. And it does taint what she or any other tennis player has won.

And all that hard work, time, money, effort, and the literal blood, sweat, and tears, was for nothing.

What a terrible and colossal waste.

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