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Simona Halep withdraws from Madrid Open

Simona Halep withdraws from Madrid Open

Simona Halep has pulled out of next week’s Madrid Open to work on her fitness, saying she needs more time get physically ready to compete at the highest level after being out of action for over 18 months.

The former Wimbledon and French Open champion had her four-year doping ban cut to nine months in March and made her return as a wild card at the Miami Open, where she fell in the first round to Paula Badosa.

“Unfortunately my body needs a little more time to be ready and I have made the tough decision not to play in Madrid,” she wrote on X. “Tough because I want to be back on tour asap, but experience tells me not to rush. Thank you to @MutuaMadridOpen who offered me the wild card and to my fans.”

The former world No. 1 was suspended in October 2022 after testing positive at the US Open for roxadustat, a banned drug that stimulates the production of red blood cells.

The 32-year-old was charged with another offense last year because of irregularities in her athlete biological passport, a tool designed to monitor different blood parameters over time to reveal potential doping.

But Halep, who denied any wrongdoing, was allowed to return to action after the Court of Arbitration for Sport cut her ban to nine months after accepting the Romanian’s explanation that a contaminated supplement was to blame for her positive test.

Halep was inside the top 10 when she was suspended but has since seen her ranking plummet to No. 1,146.

The WTA has begun a review of its rules that could see players cleared of doping offenses or having their bans reduced return to the circuit with “special rankings” in the future, the governing body told Reuters last month.

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