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Glad to Have Been Wrong About the Outcome of Simona Halep’s Appeal

When Simona Halep received the original sentence, being banned for four years after having been suspended without trial for almost one, I was saying that I expected it to be the end of her career, since I didn’t think that the appeal would do more than halve one part of the sentence and therefore reduce the ban by just one year. But I did say that it’d be nice to be proven wrong, and also that my assumption held unless another group of experts would reverse the “strong opinion” expressed about the cause of those “irregularities” by the ones who took part in the original trial.
Well, that was exactly what happened today, when the appeal resulted in that part of the charges being overturned completely and the ban for the other part being reduced by more than half, to a mere nine months, the court ruling that her anti-doping rule violations were not intentional and she could only be accused of not exercising sufficient care, not of any significant fault or negligence. And yes, that means that the final ban was shorter than the period she spent suspended without trial, so she should have been allowed to play again even before the first court finally got around to passing a sentence!
Of course, what matters most at this point is that she can return immediately, and I’m sure that it won’t be any problem to receive the invitations required by a player who doesn’t appear in the rankings, having obtained no points in the past year, in order to take part in any notable tournament, but I wonder if anybody’s going to pay for that. I mean, a ruling can be appealed and possibly overturned, and the original one was based on expert opinions that were now contradicted, so the fact that the ban was reduced so much is far less of a problem than the fact that she was suspended without trial for longer than, as it turns out, she should have been banned, and in fact exactly long enough to ensure that she was going to drop out of the rankings before having even any theoretical chance to play again. That feels like malice, and somebody should answer for it.


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