Halep finds mysterious Chinese ingredients in product causing 4-year ban

Halep sued the company behind the product for lying and expects $10 million in damages.

by Claudiu Pop
Halep finds mysterious Chinese ingredients in product causing 4-year ban
© Vaughn Ridley / Getty Images North America

Last Thursday, Simona Halep's lawyers filed a case against Quantum Nutrition, the Canadian company behind the Keto MCT product that contained the roxadustat drug that brought a 4-year suspension to the Romanian tennis player, for lying about the contents and the origin of the product.

Besides not mentioning on the nutrition label that the product contained roxadustat, Quantum Nutrition, known for their Schinoussa Superfoods brand, may have used Chinese ingredients of an unknown origin instead of ingredients from the Pacific Ocean, as they should have according to their label.

The legal case was submitted to the Supreme Court of the State of New York. With this attempt, the former Wimbledon champion tries to get damages of over $10 million.

The description of the Keto MCT product

We found the Keto MCT product reportedly consumed by Halep after a little research on the web.

The product's description claims that it is sourced from "premium coconuts" and contains four ingredients:

  • Medium Chain Triglycerides (from Coconut Oil)
  • Hydrolized Marine Collagen Peptides
  • Prebiotic Inulin Fiber
  • Vitamin C
In addition, the description claims, as Halep's lawyers remarked, that "the formula is sourced from hydrolyzed marine collagen peptides from the Pacific Ocean to make sure that it is environment-friendly and clean.

It is important to use a good quality collagen to help rebuild the body's collagen fast." There's no statement on the label that warns about the presence of roxadustat, a drug most frequently used to treat people with anaemia.

Simona Halep drinking water© Mark Kolbe / Getty Images AsiaPac

In the file submitted in New York, it's noted that "defendant Schinoussa expressly warranted that 'Our source is wild caught hydrolyzed marine collagen peptides from the Pacific Ocean to ensure an environmentally friendly and a clean, sustainable source', when in fact, Keto MCT contained Chinese sourced ingredients of an unknown origin, and contained Roxadustat which was not disclosed on the product labeling." The file also states that only one of the three Schinoussa supplements consumed by Halep at the 2022 US Open were contaminated with roxadustat.

Tsitsipas and Pospisil know the Schinoussa brand

As we dug deeper in the inner workings of the Schinoussa Superfoods brand, we discovered that their CEO is Kostas Koveos, who has a picture of him and Stefanos Tsitsipans on his LinkedIn profile.

"If I don't do it, no one will!" reads his profile description. On Instagram, the same Koveos is followed by Canadian player Vasek Pospisil, who is also the co-founder of Novak Djokovic's Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA).

In a statement published in September 2023, PTPA announced it supports Halep in her journey of proving she did not dope. "As the Professional Tennis Players Association, we staunchly support and protect players' rights in all instances.

That includes exercising their due process and appellate rights in anti-doping cases. The repeated and unexplained delays in Simona Halep's case are both unfair and unacceptable. The PTPA is fully committed in supporting her in any future appeals, as well as all players who require assistance.

As indicated in our PTPA principles, we will also continue advocating for improved processes moving forward, for the benefit of all."

However, the one responsible for giving Halep the infested supplements is none other than Patrick Mouratoglou, Simona's coach at the time.

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

“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.

What is Halep doing meanwhile

While waiting for the verdict of the CAS judges on her doping case and the development of the legal complaint submitted in New York, Halep resumed training in Dubai at the Dubai Creek Academies.

On Monday, the Romanian posted a photo displaying her tossing the ball in the air and preparing her racket for serving.

After the hearings at the CAS concluded, Halep remained confident.

"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," Halep said after her hearing was concluded. "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." Read more: CAS statement following conclusion of hearing in Simona Halep doping ban appeal.