Simona Halep files lawsuit against company she believes is to blame for doping ban

Halep filed a for a lawsuit against Quantum Nutrition in a New York state court in Manhattan.

by Dzevad Mesic
Simona Halep files lawsuit against company she believes is to blame for doping ban
© Getty Images Sport - Francois Nel

Simona Halep continues her fight to clear her name as the two-time Grand Slam champion is now suing Canadian company Quantum Nutrition which produced a supplement that she believes is to blame for her doping ban from tennis, via Reuters.

In 2022 October, the entire tennis world was left absolutely shocked after the ITIA announced that Halep was being provisionally suspended after testing positive for anti-anaemia drug Roxadustat. In the announcement, it was said that a doping test Halep had during the 2022 US Open came back positive for a banned substance.

Now, Halep is suing Quantum Nutrition and seeking $10 million in damages as she claims that the company failed to disclose on the label that the supplement she used was contaminated with Roxadustat. In her lawsuit, Halep alleges that by failing to disclose on the label that the supplement was contaminated with Roxadustat, her career and reputation was harmed. 

Roxadustat is a drug usually used to treat people diagnosed with anaemia but it is a prohibited substance in the sports world because it increases haemoglobin and the production of red cells. By using Roxadustat, an athlete could improve his endurance.

Halep filed her lawsuit in a New York state court in Manhattan, a report from Reuters says.

Simona Halep
Simona Halep© Getty Images Sport - Sarah Stier

Coach Patrick Mouratoglou provided Halep with the contaminated supplement

Just days after the 2023 US Open, the ITIA confirmed a four-year doping ban for Halep. Mouratoglou, who was working with Halep at the time of the Romanian failing a doping test, was publicly voicing his support for the former world No. 1 during the entire process but revealed something for the first time only after she received a four-year ban. 

In a video uploaded on his Instagram in early November, coach Mouratoglou admitted that his team gave Halep the supplement that turned out to be contaminated with a banned substance. When revealing that, Mouratoglou also claimed his team was unaware of the supplement being contaminated with a banned substance and describe the entire situation as "very unfair" for Halep and everyone involved.

“I feel responsible for what happened because it’s my team, so me basically me, who brought her this collagen,” Mouratoglou said in a video uploaded on his Instagram in November.

“It opened my eyes to the fact that any athlete can become contaminated tomorrow because apparently, this happens more and more. This is terrible because you are completely innocent, your reputation is impacted, hurt by the fact that your name has to do with doping even though you didn’t do any doping. Your career is stopped for a period of time that is extremely long.

"It can affect your whole career, it affects your reputation for a very unfair reason because you have done nothing. So it opened by eyes that it can happen to anyone, and the companies that you decide to go with for supplements, you have to be sure at 100% that this cannot happen.”

Simona Halep and Patrick Mouratoglou
Simona Halep and Patrick Mouratoglou© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

After Mouratoglou's revelation, Halep confirmed in one of her interviews from December that she was no longer working with the French coach.

Halep took her case to the CAS

Moments after the ITIA announced a four-year doping ban for Halep, the two-time Grand Slam champion said she would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Last week, Halep was heard in front of the top sports court in Lausanne between Wednesday and Friday. After Halep's hearing was concluded on Friday, Halep briefly spoke with the media, insisting that she was "very confident the truth will out to light."

"I can't tell you absolutely anything about what happened at the hearing, but I can say that this hearing gave me the chance to present my defense. I want to tell you that my confidence is intact regarding the truth. I'm very confident that the truth will come out and it will be proven that I never intended to dope and I never did," Halep said after exiting the court last Friday. 

Simona Halep
Simona Halep© Getty Images Sport - Vaughn Ridley

That same day, the CAS also issued a statement. Usually, it takes the CAS a month or a few months to reach a verdict in such cases. 

"The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing in the arbitration procedures CAS 2023/A/10025 Simona Halep v. International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) and CAS 2023/A/10227 International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) v. Simona Halep concluded at 3:30pm today with the final pleadings of the parties, as scheduled," the CAS said in a statement last Friday.

"The parties have been informed that the CAS Panel in charge of the matter will now deliberate and prepare the Arbitral Award containing its decision and grounds. No particular date was announced with respect to the notification of the final decision."

For 32-year-old Halep, this is likely the final chapter in her battle to clear her name and have her doping ban removed. 

If Halep loses her appeal in the CAS, her four-year doping will stand and she won't be eligible to return to tennis until 2026 October. But Halep will be 35 in 2026 October and she indicated already that she would not return to tennis again if her doping ban stood. 

Simona Halep