Tennis star says she’s ‘scared’ of anti-doping measures after Simona Halep ban

Tennis star Maria Sakkari says she is “scared” of the sport’s anti-doping test measures.

Tuesday saw two-time Grand Slam winner Simona Halep banned from tennis for four years after failing a drugs test at last year’s US Open. The 31-year-old first hit the headlines in October 2022 when it was reported she had tested positive for the banned anti-anaemia drug roxadustat at Flushing Meadows.

Halep was handed a provisional suspension while she skipped the rest of the playing calendar with a nose surgery. And the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) this week announced its discovery of further anomalies in her biological passport.

Now Greek tennis player Sakkari, 28, has hit out at ITIA after being asked if she trusted the doping authorities while at the San Diego Open.

READ MORE: Tennis icon Serena Williams shades Wimbledon rival Simona Halep with dig after drugs ban

The former world number three explained: “The way they are handling every situation with any athlete is just scary. We are going to get to a point where we are not going to even be taking electrolytes. That’s how I feel.

“Thankfully I haven’t been in that position and I never want to be. I am being very careful with anything that has to do with supplements.

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“But I don’t know what’s the process with how things are done behind closed doors. I don’t know who has a say [with what’s going on], I don’t know, it’s not in my knowledge.”

When asked about how things could be improved, for example in communication with players, she answered: “I would for sure improve the ‘Whereabouts’ App they have – it’s horrible, it doesn’t work well and it’s supposed to remind you every day about your time slot but it doesn’t. They tried to improve it but it’s not working very well.”

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Sakkari went on to describe the situation as “very stressful”, saying: “I wake up almost every night to use the bathroom, and if that’s close to my testing timeslot, then I am just thinking ‘do I go, do I not go, do I wait until they come? It’s just something very stressful.”

Five-time Grand Slam finalist Halep has announced her intention to appeal the ban, which will keep her out until October 2026. She maintained her innocence with regards to the adverse findings, calling it the “the hardest match” of her life.

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