Tennis warned over stars 'losing faith in system' after Halep's doping-related ban

By Sports Desk March 13, 2024

Simona Halep may have celebrated the reduction of an initial four-year ban but tennis must be wary of players "losing faith in the system" after her alleged doping-related punishment.

That was the thoughts of Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) representative Ahmad Nassar after supporting Halep through the appeal process after she was banned by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) for "intentional" doping offences.

The two-time grand slam champion remained staunch in her defence of innocence and eventually succeeded earlier this week as the ban that was initially set to last until 2026 was reduced to a nine-month suspension, which was backdated and allowed her straight back on the court.

"That's the shame of this – there are two impacts to this and they're at different ends of the spectrum," Nassar told Stats Perform.

"One is losing faith in the system and, the other is being pretty darn scared of the system.

"I never thought this could happen to even a former number one grand slam champion, or especially, a lower-ranked player that just gets completely rolled over.

"It really can happen to anyone. If we're making people lose faith in it, and simultaneously petrified of it – that's not a good system that is working."

Halep will return at the Hard Rock Stadium in Florida, where the action starts on March 17, as the former world number one marks a comeback tournament with her record – and reputation – reinstated.

Questions remain for Nassar, though, as repeated calls persist for improvements in the regulatory system with reform needed in his eyes.

"This is the end of Simona's nightmare chapter dealing with this, and may she never have any dealing with this again," he continued.

"But we just know that the process out there right now is a ticking time bomb. Other players are still navigating it, there are players to come who will sadly have to navigate it.

"The goal of the programme is a clean sport, and a fair score for first and foremost, the players.

"So how do we how do we strike that balance? Within the current system, there is a lot of room for improvement.

"How do we ease that burden without losing sight of the first goal, which is nobody wants to play in a clean sport more than the players themselves? They are most affected if somebody is cheating."

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