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24 Oct, 2022 09:22

Coach backs former world number one in doping scandal

Darren Cahill believes there is ‘no chance’ that Simona Halep knowingly took a prohibited substance
Coach backs former world number one in doping scandal

Two-time Grand Slam winner Simona Halep’s ex-coach Darren Cahill has said there is “no chance” that the Romanian tennis player knowingly took a banned substance after Halep was provisionally suspended due to a failed drugs test.

The world number nine was tested during the calendar year’s last Grand Slam, the US Open. On Friday, the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) confirmed that the anemia drug roxadustat was found in her A and B samples, which led to the 31-year-old being provisionally banned from WTA events.

Halep wrote on social that the findings were “the biggest shock of my life,” while claiming that she felt completely confused and betrayed.” 

On Instagram, Cahill, who oversaw her development for six years and guided Halep to her maiden Grand Slam title in 2018 when she won the French Open, said that Halep’s integrity was “faultless” and there is “NO chance” she “knowingly purposely took any substance on the banned list.”

“None. Zero,” Cahill added in a lengthy post. 

“She is an athlete that stressed about anything prescribed to her by a medical professional (which was rarely), or about any supplement that she used or considered,” Cahill explained.

“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.”

Cahill claimed that honesty “has always been” Halep’s “greatest strength and biggest weakness.”

“We would often laugh about the fact that she can’t act and can’t tell a little white lie. Ask her a question in a press conference and she will blurt out an honest answer. She wears her mood on her shoulder for the world to see, for good and for bad. 

“That is Simo. What you see is what you get. She built an amazing career and legacy by doing things the hard way. The right way.”

Cahill said that due process will now follow “to reveal answers to many questions.”

“As Simona said, the hardest match of her life starts now.”

“I believe in her. I always have and can honestly say never more than right now on this particular issue. I stand with Simo,” he concluded.

Halep has also received backing from her current coach Patrick Mouratoglou. Sharing her Twitter statement, the Frenchman wrote: “I support you 100% in this fight, Simona. All the way through,” in an Instagram story.

Rising to the top of the sport between 2017 and 2019, Halep was world number one twice during that period for a total of 64 weeks.

She won the French Open in 2018 and Wimbledon the following year. And though failing to lift a third Grand Slam, she returned to the top ten in 2022 with two WTA tour titles.

Following a shock first-round loss at the US Open to Ukrainian qualifier Daria Snigur, Halep announced that she would cut her season short after undergoing nose surgery.

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