In a forthcoming interview with Tennis Channel, Simona Halep shares vivid memories of the moment that the former world No. 1 discovered that she had tested positive for roxadustat, a banned substance, following the 2022 US Open.

“Oh, like a truck hit you,” she described in an exclusive sit-down with Jon Wertheim. “And when I received the email, it was like, ‘It's a mistake. It cannot be true, this one.’ Yeah, it was a really big pain when this happened, and I never thought that I can live something like this.”

A two-time Grand Slam champion, Halep had never before run afoul of the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA), and had long been an outspoken advocate for clean sport, and indeed, the revelation that the Romanian had been accused of taking a performance enhancing substance—followed by the further ITIA announcement that there were irregularities found in Halep’s Athlete Biological Passport (ABP)—sent shockwaves throughout the tennis world.


“It was really, really difficult,” Halep said. “Firstly because I didn't know how it happened. And then when I discovered the contaminated supplement, it was a little bit better because you know what happened at least. But yeah, still, it was a disaster to live that emotion.”

Halep, who claimed the roxadustat was the result of a contaminated substance she began taking before the US Open, was provisionally suspended in October 2022. After the ITIA initially handed down a four-year ban, the 32-year-old was ultimately sidelined 18 months when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) reversed her ABP conviction and declared she bore “no significant fault” for the presence of roxadustat in her system.

Halep spoke with Wertheim in Bucharest for a wide-ranging interview, describing her state of mind during her suspension and her plans to return to action, which she did officially at the Miami Open in March. She has been sidelined again due to injuries, but is free to play and accept wild cards from any tournament that will invite her.

The full interview will air on Tennis Channel this month.