WTA stays firm on suspension for tennis star Peng Shuai despite damning secret tape

Since the undercover video emerged of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai talking on the phone in a Frankfurt hotel room with a potential recruit to her team, her career has taken a turn for the worse, culminating in her ranking plummeting from 9th to 140th in the world in a matter of days. In the wake of her downfall, the chairwoman of the WTA, Steve Simon, has said the new footage is “insufficient” to alleviate Chinese tennis officials’ concerns about Peng’s physical safety.

“While we believe what [Peng] says about wanting to recruit foreign players for her doubles team, we are not satisfied that the undercover operation into her private business involved any criminal acts that would endanger her or others,” Simon said in a statement.

The head of the WTA said that she continues to have “serious concerns” about Peng’s safety, and that her match exclusion and lifetime ban from the WTA remains a “considerable concern.”

After her withdrawal from Wednesday’s Sao Paulo Open doubles tournament with partner Kveta Peschke, Peng told reporters in Brazil that her ban made her feel “bitter.”

“I am shocked and feeling disappointed to be no longer able to take part in the biggest events of my career,” said Peng. “This is not right and it hurts me a lot. I did nothing wrong, and I am disappointed about it.”

Peng’s revelations have rattled Chinese tennis officials who were previously keen to claim that her disqualification was merely due to a “bug in the piece of equipment” that wiped out her win in the Sao Paulo Open last week. That excuse was swiftly discredited by several publications in China, who noted that the bureau’s previous punishments against other players in the tournament who had also failed to uphold their end of the bargain had resulted in just a two-day suspension. The Bunyan Hoang, Peng’s husband and captain of her team, is no doubt hoping for a similar response to the scandal which now threatens the entire Chinese tennis program.

Read the full story at the Shanghaiist.


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