The Women’s Tennis Association on Wednesday said it has doubts about the authenticity of the email released by Chinese state media attributed to tennis player Peng Shuai, who has not been seen or heard in public since making a sexual assault allegation against a top former Communist Party of China official.
“Hello, everyone this is Peng Shuai. Regarding the recent news released on the official website of the WTA, the content has not been confirmed or verified by myself and it was released without my consent,” the email says.
“The news in that release, including the allegation of sexual assault, is not true. I’m not missing, nor am I unsafe.
China’s official broadcaster CCTV’s English channel, CGTN, early on Thursday tweeted an email allegedly from Peng, in which the sports star says she is well and safe. She also goes on to deny the allegations of against former CPC politburo standing committee member, Zhang Gaoli.
Earlier this month, Peng, 35, a former Chinese world number one in doubles tennis, had accused former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli, 75, of coercing her into having sex and subsequently continuing an on-and-off secret relationship with her for years.
The vice-premier was among the seven members of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee, the highest decision-making body in China, between 2013 and 2018, under President Xi Jinping.Peng’s post was swiftly deleted and there’s been no news about her from the time.
“Peng Shuai must be allowed to speak freely, without coercion or intimidation from any source. Her allegation of sexual assault must be respected, investigated with full transparency and without censorship,” the WTA chief wrote.
“I hope Peng Shuai and her family are safe and ok. I’m in shock at the current situation and I’m sending love and light her way,” she added.