Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai said she never accused anyone of sexual assault, according to an interview published Monday, again walking back an allegation that sparked worldwide concern about her safety.
The former doubles world number one alleged in a social media post in November that former Chinese vice-premier Zhang Gaoli forced her into sex during a years-long relationship.
“I never said anyone had sexually assaulted me in any way,” Peng told the French sports daily L’Equipe, reiterating a similar comment she gave to a Singaporean newspaper back in December.
It was widely suspected that the country’s strict internet censors, sensitive about any criticism of the government, had removed it.
“There was a huge misunderstanding in the outside world following this post,” she said.
When asked about the concern her absence sparked, Peng said she had “never disappeared”.
Concerns have swirled about Peng’s safety despite her appearances following the three-week absence, which showed her attending sporting events.
– Bach meeting –
Bach said ahead of the Games that the IOC would back an inquiry into her allegations if she wanted one, saying the meeting was to “know better about her physical integrity and her mental state”.
“We had dinner together on Saturday and we had a nice discussion and exchange,” said Peng, who also announced her retirement from tennis in the interview.
Peng was accompanied by Chinese Olympic Committee chief of staff Wang Kan during the interview.