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Patrick Mouratoglou breaks silence over Simona Halep doping furore

Tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou has revealed his shock after former World No.1 Simona Halep tested positive to a banned substance at the US Open.

The two-time grand slam winner returned a positive test for Roxadustat, a substance which stimulates red blood cells and is commonly used for patients with kidney problems.

Halep’s positive sample sent shockwaves through the tennis world, and is arguably the biggest doping scandal to hit the sport since Maria Sharapova tested positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

Mouratoglou, who has worked with the likes of Serena Williams, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Grigor Dimitrov and has coached Halep since the start of 2022, said he was ‘shocked’ to learn of her positive test result.

Halep, who is provisionally suspended from competition, has vowed to find the ‘truth’ of the matter and maintains she has never knowingly taken any performance-enhancing substance.

In a statement on Instagram responding to the news, Mouratoglou described Halep as a ‘woman of value’ and said he doubted she had attempted deliberately break the rules.

“First, I want to express how much of a shock our team has been in since Simona informed me about the positive doping test from the US Open,” he wrote.

“In almost 30 years of working with hundreds of professional athletes, I have never faced a situation like this.

“I appreciate that many people from the tennis world who have closely worked with Simona or have known her personally for many years have spoken up.

“I want to thank those people for expressing loudly in such an important moment that Simona is a woman of value. Their words of certitude convey a strong message that I stand by.”

In a statement posted to her own social media channels after the story broke, Halep vowed to fight for the truth.

“Facing such an unfair situation, I feel completely confused and betrayed. I will fight until the end to prove that I never knowingly took any prohibited substance and I have faith that, sooner or later, the truth will come out,” Halep said.

“It’s not about the titles or money. It’s about honour, and the love story I have developed with the game of tennis over the last 25 years.”

Simona Halep’s former coach speaks out in support of grand slam winner

Darren Cahill, the Australian coach who steered Halep to grand slam glory, says there’s no way his former charge knowingly took drugs.

As tennis luminaries have come out in force to throw their weight behind the popular Halep’s fight to clear her name, Cahill has led an impassioned defence, insisting her “integrity is faultless” and concluding, “I stand with Simo”.

Cahill, who guided Halep to world No.1 in 2017 and to her 2018 French Open triumph in a six-year alliance, wrote in a long Instagram post on Sunday: “Firstly, and most importantly, there is NO chance Simona knowingly or purposely took any substance on the banned list. None. Zero.

Simona Halep is pictured returning a shot at the 2022 US Open.
Simona Halep returned a positive doping test from a sample collected at the US Open earlier in 2022. (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

“Simona wore out the words ‘please double check this, triple check this to make sure it’s legal, safe and permitted. If you are not sure, I’m not taking it.’

“We both believe in the ITIA testing program and would often discuss the number of times she was tested, both at tournaments and randomly.

“She did it without complaint, with the reassurance of knowing other athletes were being tested just as frequently.

“Competing against clean athletes was important to her.”

Halep’s partnership with Cahill ended last year and she’s since been working with Mouratoglou.

Fellow Romanian Billie Jean King Cup players have jumped to her defence while Halep’s former husband Toni Iuruc said in an interview: “I swear to you that this girl, my ex-wife, is obsessed with one thing – honour.

“You can take anything from Simona, if you took away her honour, her fairness, you kill her. She is no longer human.

“Simona would not have done such a thing even if you had cut off her hand to stop playing tennis.”

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