Tennis player Peng Shuai faced calls for her to be expelled from the Chinese Professional Tennis League this week after an incident in May in which she accused a retired member of the Chinese Communist Party of sexually assaulting her.
The head of the Chinese Tennis Association, Ma Junren, addressed the matter head-on Thursday and said she had been suspended by the league until further notice.
Ma Junren: “Peng Shuai has been suspended from the IPTL.” pic.twitter.com/MyVb4TN3e1 — Aurora Li (@aurorazonic123) August 10, 2017
“Peng Shuai was let go because she violated the comfort of a retired member of the Communist Party of China,” he said. “The behavior of the player is contrary to the democratic society that the Chinese government looks forward to.”
On Friday Peng tweeted that she has “cooperated” with investigators and apologized to the Chinese government. “I am sorry, and I have no other intentions.”
In May, Peng alleged she was grabbed by Yuxuan He (also known as Li Xiang). Peng and Li Xiang co-own the IPTL franchise Beijing Khosla Jiao Tong, and both were on court against each other, according to ESPN.
“After I realized the difference between my middle finger and his hand, I rushed back to [Zhang Yuxuan, another Beijing Khosla Jiao Tong player], but we found him in the change room and he was very sorry,” Peng said.
Peng claimed Li Xiang was familiar with the guards at the hotel they were staying in. The guard allegedly lifted a blouse and she took it to the security manager who confirmed the alleged assault.
“After that, he was escorted out of the hotel at midnight in handcuffs,” Peng said.
Li Xiang has since apologized, and a security guard has been fired for failing to file a report, according to a statement from Khosla Jiao Tong. The Chinese State Sports Administration has decided to drop Li Xiang as player on the team.
“I hereby sincerely apologize to Peng Shuai, Liu Huanjing, the Chinese officials and the fans,” Li Xiang said in a statement. “I would like to tell Peng Shuai I have rectified the past mistake. Now I just wish her much success and happiness.”
He has claimed he does not know Peng and has never met her. The two players were on court in May playing a professional tennis match, but the ad executive said he didn’t know the two were playing that day.
“It’s extremely disappointing if Peng Shuai makes things up. Unfortunately, this just shows that these sorts of bad character have been common in the world of sports,” He said in a statement, according to CNN.
Peng expressed her disgust with the way He was treated on her verified Twitter account.
“I’m not sure if it’s happened again,” she said in a statement. “But even though this has happened to another player, I think this is unacceptable behavior. I don’t think it’s okay.”
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