New Delhi: Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has denied the allegations against him after earlier accusing a senior Communist Party leader of sexual harassment. In his first media interview since making allegations against former deputy prime minister Zhang Gaoli, Peng denied the allegations.
“I want to emphasize a very important point: I have never said or written anything accusing someone of sexual harassment,” Peng, 35, told Linhe Zaobao, a Singapore-Chinese-language newspaper in Shanghai. ”
“I would like to emphasize this point very clearly,” she said.
Peng, in a post on Twitter-like platform Weibo, accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sex during an on-off relationship that lasted several years.
The post was immediately taken down, but the screenshot of the same had already triggered global concerns on Twitter.
Asked about the Weibo post, Peng said it was a “private matter” and that people had “many misconceptions” about it.
In the Zaobao footage, a man was heard asking if she was under any surveillance as she alleged, to which Peng replied that she had “always been very independent,” as reported by AFP.
While Peng is claiming that she was not under any coercion or surveillance, the Women’s Tennis Federation was still not convinced. On Monday the WTA said it had “significant concerns about his well-being and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion.”
Peng’s quickly censored social media post sparked global concerns about the Chinese tennis star that included the United Nations, the White House and fellow tennis players.
The WTA has demanded a fair and transparent investigation into the matter. In an email to AFP, the WTA said: “We stand firm in our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation without censorship into her sexual assault allegations.”
Peng’s latest video was followed by a screenshot of an email Peng wrote to the WTA saying “everything is fine.”
However, WTA chief Steve Simon said she found the email “hard to believe” and raised doubts as to whether she was really free to speak.
The WTA has suspended all tournaments in China and Hong Kong over concerns about Peng.