“The truth comes out,” Serena Williams’ old video dissing Maria Sharapova over her doping ban resurfaces following Simona Halep’s 4-year suspension

Halep will not be able to play professional tennis again until 6 October 2026 following her ban


“The truth comes out,” Serena Williams’ old video dissing Maria Sharapova over her doping ban resurfaces following Simona Halep’s 4-year suspension

Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams and Simona Halep (Credits : Getty Images)

Two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep has suffered a huge setback as she has been banned for four years for two breaches of anti-doping rules, the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) announced yesterday. The independent tribunal confirmed that it had found the player had committed intentional anti-doping rule violations under Article 2 of the TADP. They further confirmed the presence and use of roxadustat as evidenced in Halep’s urine sample collected on 29 August 2022 at the US Open. The verdict also alleged the use of a prohibited substance or method during 2022, based on the collection and analysis of 51 blood samples provided by the player as part of the ABP programme.

Halep issued a strongly worded statement reiterating her innocence and vowed to challenge the verdict. Sharing a post on ‘X’, she said, “I have devoted my life to the beautiful game of tennis. I take the rules that govern our sport very seriously and take pride in the fact I have never knowingly or intentionally used any prohibited substance. I refused to accept their decision of a four-year ban.”

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In response to the verdict, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams shared a post on social media taking an apparent dig at the Romanian player. The post captioned, “8 is a better number,” caught the attention of eagle-eyed fans on social media. The post was apparently referring to the final of Wimbledon 2019 played between the pair. Halep denied Serena a chance of winning her 8th Wimbledon women’s singles title. After the match, during the trophy ceremony, Williams said that Halep played “out of her mind”.

Now, an old video has resurfaced in which Williams is apparently throwing shade at Maria Sharapova for her doping ban. The video led to many fans on social media calling her the queen of throwing shade. On 7 March 2016, Sharapova revealed that she had failed a drug test at the 2016 Australian Open, which she described as the result of an oversight. Sharapova admitted to testing positive for meldonium, an anti-ischemic drug usually prescribed for heart conditions that was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)’s banned substances list on 1 January 2016. Subsequently, she was provisionally suspended by ITF.

Talking about her life away from tennis, Williams said in the video, “I don’t care about my results on the court. For me it’s more about what’s the purpose of your life.” She further said, “When it turns out people are actually doing drugs, the truth comes out… and then they get caught… and then they get banned for not long enough,” she added, taking a dig at the Russian player.

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Simona Halep alleges foul play by ITIA in doping suspension

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Simona Halep (Credits: WTA)

Speaking in her defense, Halep explained her part of the story. “Ahead of the hard court season in 2022, upon recommendation from my trusted team and physiotherapist, I adjusted my nutritional supplements. None of the listed ingredients included any prohibited substances however we now know – and the tribunal agreed – one of them was contaminated with roxadustat. I was tested almost weekly after my initial positive test through early 2023, all of which came back negative,” she said, giving a timeline of the events.

The former world no.1 went on to allege the expert group assigned by ITIA of foul play. “Despite this evidence, the ITIA brought an ABP charge only after its expert group learned my identity, causing two out of three to suddenly change their opinion in favor of ITIA’s allegations. The ITIA relied solely on the opinions of these experts who looked only at my blood parameters – which I’ve maintained for more than 10 years in the same range. This group ignored the fact no prohibited substance has ever been found in my blood or urine samples with the sole exception of one August 29 positive test for roxadustat, which was present at an extremely low level and which, when considering my negative test three days prior, could only have been caused by accidental exposure to roxadustat,” Halep explained.

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As a result of the suspension, the former World No.1 has dropped out of the WTA top 1000 rankings. Halep isn’t the only tennis player serving suspension on doping allegations. Swedish Pro Mikael Ymer admitted he had been charged with a potential anti-doping rule violation in January 2022 for missing three out-of-competition test attempts in a 12-month period. Subsequently, he announced his early retirement from the sport.

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