Simona Halep receives wildcard to Miami Open after doping ban is cut short

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Simona Halep is set to make her competitive return to tennis at the Miami Open later this month after being given a main-draw wildcard by the tournament organisers.

This week, the former world No 1’s appeal against a four-year doping suspension was upheld, with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) reducing her ban to nine months — all of which she has already served.

“I’m thrilled to let you all know that I will be making my return to the WTA Tour in two weeks at the @miamiopen!” the 32-year-old wrote on Instagram. “Thank you to the tournament for giving me this opportunity and I cannot wait to be back on court and competing. See you all soon!”

The two-time Grand Slam champion was provisionally suspended in October 2022, and then given a four-year ban in September of last year — but after this week’s CAS ruling, she is free to play tennis again on the WTA Tour.

Halep has not played a competitive match since the 2022 U.S. Open, when she lost in the first round to Daria Snigur, of Ukraine.

Halep was charged twice by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA), with one relating to the use of the prohibited substance roxadustat at that tournament at Flushing Meadows.

Roxadustat is commonly used for people suffering from anaemia, a condition resulting from a low level of red blood cells, and stimulates haemoglobin and red blood cell production, which assists endurance.

The second charge surrounded alleged irregularities in Halep’s athlete biological passport, which monitors selected variables over time that indirectly reveal the effects of doping.

While the case wasn’t thrown out entirely, CAS ruled that on “the balance of probabilities” Halep’s anti-doping rule violations were “not intentional”. They came from a contaminated dose of the supplement, Keto MCT, just as she had said.

Her coach at the time, Patrick Mouratoglou, had researched and recommended the supplement for her. He has said he was responsible for the mistake.

The Miami Open takes place between March 19-31.

(Top photo: Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

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