China voices concern over Wang’s star wife

Written by Staff Writer for CNN

Li Yongda, deputy director of the China Tennis Association (CTA), which manages Chinese athletes, offered to escort Peng Shuai back to the country after threats made against her. But she says a new video of the controversial player, posted online by the US Marshals Service , appears “insufficient” in meeting that demand.

Safeguarding China’s top female tennis player — who is under investigation for match-fixing — is expected to be a matter of national security and is highly sensitive in the world’s most populous country.

Li Yongda, deputy director of the CTA, offers to escort Peng Shuai out of the US, shortly after the Wang family posted video of the tennis star. CNN’s Richard Quest

Peng was detained in February on suspicion of match-fixing, and placed under house arrest . Wang Chunlin, her husband and manager , was also detained.

“I am more concerned over her safety than about her, that’s the most important matter to me,” Li said in an interview with CNN.

“At the moment I’m not taking any side. I’m not even confirming (any link) between myself and the Wang family or the Dang family. It’s not my responsibility.

“As I said, as part of the programme we’ve agreed to, the Chinese government will give her a special team to accompany her.”

To view an annotated version of the above video see CNN’s video player . Credit: Courtesy the United States Marshals Service

Li also said that the CTA was disappointed by the US Marshals Service’s handling of the case, and would be requesting more information from the US authorities.

“The US Department of Justice told us in an email, that (they) would have extra conditions, and everything else. But it’s not at all what we expected and they don’t satisfy us in any way. We can only take what’s contained in the police report, but for more and better questions, we need more, and better, information.”

‘Serious, systematic, and rampant’

Peng’s arrest has since sparked public debate about whether tennis administrators are sufficiently protecting the health and security of top Chinese athletes.

“It’s obvious. There are a lot of connections between the police and Li’s team. It’s serious, systematic, and rampant,” China’s current Women’s doubles number one Wang Yihan told the public broadcaster CCTV.

The Chinese Tennis Association’s investigation of Li Shuai and her husband follows a spate of high-profile examples of the country’s top athletes suspected of match-fixing. In April, China’s former heavyweight boxing champion Zou Shiming was sentenced to 16 years in prison for match-fixing .

Despite widespread coverage of Zou’s case, many of his former fans rallied behind the boxer to protest against the punishment, suggesting that accusations against Zou were racially motivated.

Leave a Comment