Peng Shuai: Email accusing Chinese tennis player of drug cheating ‘false’

Peng Shuai is a China number one

Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai says an email accusing her of drug cheating is a false claim, with three other players also named in the document.

Two days after reports of drug tests that missed “potential stimulants”, a journalist told the BBC that a letter had been sent to all 42 tennis players after a positive test at a Grand Slam.

The letter also names French Open players Kristina Mladenovic and Alexandra Dulgheru and South African Raven Klaasen.

Peng, 31, says the email is based on old gossip, and has shown the BBC what it states to be an email from 2013.

A press officer for the South African Tennis Association later said there was no record of a meeting with the website, TennisBigs.

Peng said: “I didn’t think this is true. I think it’s all just gossip. There are so many people who are blowing this one up.”

Mladenovic and Dulgheru are not fit to comment for the time being.

The attorney for Klaasen told the BBC: “The email that is being circulated does not contain the name of our client or any other names, but is simply a name of a suspect player. We have requested that a correct name is put in the document.”

A fourth player has also been named, according to a report on the website of BBC’s sister network, Radio 5 live.

In an email sent to all players at Wimbledon, the journalist claimed each was tested during June and had traces of an unidentified stimulant.

A new tennis anti-doping programme, which comes into force on 1 August, is mandatory for all major players from 2016. They are all free to be tested as often as they wish in the open and WTA Tour tournaments.

The credibility of the report will be put to the WTA and Tennis Integrity Unit in due course.

Match-fixing allegations have been bandied about in tennis

In May, 2006, four players were given suspensions for attempted manipulation of matches at an ITF men’s event in Thailand. The four – Kenny De Schepper, Dominik Hrbaty, Xavier Malisse and Victor Hanescu – had taken part in pre-qualifying for the tournament.

In December, 2009, American pro player Wayne Odesnik pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to accept bribes for spot fixing and is serving a two-year ban from the sport.

He was accused of paying over $600,000 in return for the fix of matches at the Insatiable tournament in Las Vegas, but the deal was aborted when the player in question refused to take part.

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