Peng Shuai US Open 2014

IOC chief vows to support inquiry into sexual assault allegations by Peng Shuai

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has promised to support Peng Shuai in an inquiry into her allegations of sexual assault should she request one but says “it must be her decision” as it’s “her life and her allegations.”

The world was alarmed when former French Open and Wimbledon doubles champion Peng Shuai publicly disappeared for three weeks after she accused former Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of coercing her into a sexual relationship.

Amongst the major bodies probing for answers and resolution were the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).

The IOC remain the only Western organisation to have established video communication with Peng and look to be the only Western group to hold an in-person meeting with the Chinese star.

Meanwhile, WTA Chairman Steve Simon had been limited to email correspondence he felt was “100% orchestrated.”

However, the IOC’s video interview was labelled a “publicity stunt” whilst their general approach of ‘quiet diplomacy’ also received heavy backlash, with many feeling the IOC allowed themselves to become Chinese “propaganda machinery.”

The WTA on the other hand received plaudits for their stern decision to withdraw all tournaments from China, including the prestigious WTA Finals, after China refused and failed to satisfy their requests for a “full, fair and transparent” investigation.

The latest update to the situation came when a pro-Beijing news outlet showed Peng retract her allegations as she said there had been “multiple misunderstandings.”

In a news conference, IOC President Bach said “our (the IOC’s) approach is first and foremost in the interests of Peng Shuai to answer the question which was concerning us from a human point of view, that of ‘where is Peng Shuai?’

“That’s why we took this approach to get in contact and get to know where she is and as far as possible how she is.

“This you can only achieve if you take contact, if you do not take contact, if you just make a declaration about the status, you don’t get any further normally.

“We are step by step trying to find out if she wants to have the inquiry. Of course, we would also support her in this, but it must be her decision. It’s her life, it’s her allegations.

“We will have this personal meeting and continue this conversation. We will know more about her physical integrity and mental state when we meet her in person.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.