Simona Halep fears loss of doping appeal will end her career

PARIS -- Two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep fears a loss in the appeal of her four-year doping suspension could lead to the end of her playing career.

A three-day hearing with the Court of Arbitration for Sport is scheduled for Feb. 7-9 in her appeal against the International Tennis Integrity Agency, which ruled that Halep "committed intentional anti-doping rule violations."

"Four years is going to be a lot for my age," Halep, a 32-year-old from Romania who has been No. 1 in the WTA rankings, said in an interview with euronews posted online Friday.

"It's catastrophic if it's going to be four years," she said. "And I don't know how I will handle it. Probably it's going to be [the] end of [my] career, yes."

Halep tested positive for the drug Roxadustat at the 2022 US Open and also was cited for irregularities in her biological passport. Roxadustat stimulates the body to produce more of the natural hormone erythropoietin, or EPO, which has long been a doping product favored by cyclists and distance runners.

Halep said in Friday's interview that she is no longer working with coach Patrick Mouratoglou's academy and hasn't spoken with him in a "few months."

In a video Mouratoglou posted on Instagram in November, he took blame for providing a tainted substance to Halep.

"We brought her collagen from a company. This collagen happened to be contaminated," Mouratoglou said. "There was no way to know it. But I feel responsible for what happened because it's my team -- so me, basically -- who brought her this collagen."

Halep won the French Open in 2018 by beating Sloane Stephens in the final, and Wimbledon in 2019 by defeating Serena Williams in the title match.

Speaking with euronews in Paris. Halep said she hopes she wins her appeal and will be eligible to compete in next year's Summer Olympics in that city.

"I know I didn't do anything wrong and I know I'm clean," Halep said.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.