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Simona Halep wins doping case: Grand Slam champion cleared for immediate tennis return

Two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep was cleared for an immediate return to tennis on Tuesday after sports’ highest court accepted she was not entirely at fault for her positive doping test.

Simona Halep, of Romania, returns a shot (AP)

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said its judges partially upheld Halep’s appeal and reduced her four-year ban to just nine months. It was applied retroactively and expired last July.

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The three judges decided Halep “established on the balance of probabilities” her positive test for a banned blood-boosting substance “entered her body through the consumption of a contaminated supplement.”

The judges also awarded Halep 20,000 Swiss francs ($22,650) toward her legal fees from the International Tennis Integrity Agency which prosecuted her and asked CAS for a six-year ban.

Halep has not played since the 2022 U.S. Open, where she tested positive for the banned blood-booster roxadustat.

She had been serving a ban that would have exiled her from tennis until October 2026 after she turned 35.

The agency banned Halep last year after an investigation that was prolonged by detecting alleged irregularities in her biological passport, which can reveal abnormal blood values measured over several years.

The investigators also appealed to CAS and asked for a more severe ban of up to six years, said the court, whose judges dismissed the charge against Halep relating to her blood values.

The former top-ranked Romanian denied wrongdoing for the positive test and blamed contaminated nutritional supplements. Athletes need to prove the source of contamination to show they were not at fault for doping.

“Although the CAS panel found that Ms. Halep did bear some level of fault or negligence for her violations, as she did not exercise sufficient care when using the Keto MCT supplement, it concluded that she bore no significant fault or negligence,” the court said.

Halep challenged the ban at CAS and attended a three-day, closed-door hearing one month ago in Lausanne.

She won Wimbledon in 2019, beating 23-time major champion Serena Williams in the final, and the 2018 French Open.

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