Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai is now denying that she ever said she was sexually assaulted, despite a social media post from her account in November that accused a former top Communist Party of forcing her into a sexual relationship.
"First of all, I want to emphasize something that is very important. I have never said that I wrote that anyone sexually assaulted me. I need to emphasize this point very clearly," Peng told the Lianhe Zaobao Chinese-language newspaper, which posted a video of Peng that was reportedly taken on Sunday.
It is unclear, based on the newspaper's report, why Peng would post the lengthy statement in November, or whether it was her post at all.
Following the original post from Peng's verified Weibo account, she dropped out of the publicly eye, prompting speculation about her safety from politicians. The Women's Tennis Association announced a suspension of all events in China indefinitely when she disappeared conspicuously, and fellow athletes around the world rallied around the question of her whereabouts.
Following the global outcry of concern, Peng began making limited public appearances again. The foreign branch of Chinese state TV also issued a statement attributed to the player, in which she withdrew her accusation.
Peng's recent string of actions, however, have not quelled the concern of the international community. Women's Tennis Association CEO Steve Simon says he remains unsure about the statement's legitimacy and has repeatedly called upon China to conduct a probe into the 35-year-old's accusations.
The International Olympic Committee, on the other hand, has opted to drop the subject after concluding that Peng is fine following a video chat conversation with her.