Shuai Peng is a former doubles No.1 player who is reported to have breached the guidelines of the Tennis Integrity Unit which helps in keeping the sport free from any sort of corruption and misbehaviour by the athletes and the people associated with them. The Chinese player and her former coach Bertrand Perret have been banned for three months from the circuit. Here is an in-depth detailing of the events that have so far occured in this case.
On 9th August 2018, a statement circulated across the social media with the headline: “PENG SHUAI DISCIPLINED FOR BREACH OF ANTI-CORRUPTION PROGRAM.”
Another one of those intriguing stories was: “TENNIS COACH BERTRAND PERRET DISCIPLINED FOR BREACH OF TENNIS ANTI-CORRUPTION PROGRAM.”
Shuai Peng was reported to attempt to change her doubles partner at 2017 Wimbledon ladies doubles event after the sign-in deadline. The World No.80 was found to have used coercion and was reported to have offered financial reward to her partner if she agreed to withdraw from the ladies double event.
This act by Shuai was a violation of the Section D.1.d. of the Tennis Anti-Corruption program which states that , “No covered person shall, directly or indirectly, contrive or attempt to contrive the outcome of any other aspect of any event.”
It was on 16th July 2018 when the Independent Anti-Corruption Hearing Officer, Professor Richard H. McLaren considered the case. The decision on Peng was six months ban with three months suspended and a fine of $10,000 and $5000 for the suspension. Shuai’s ban was applicable from immediate effect, meaning that she will not be able to compete any time before 8th November 2018, causing her to miss the final grand slam of the year.
A subsequent ruling was done for Shuai’s former coach Bertrand Perret. Shuai and Perret worked together from November 2016 to January 2018. During the 2017 Wimbledon, along with Shuai, he too is accused of being involved in the act of coercion. The Frenchman who is a WTA Gold Coach and the current coach of World No.109 Ons Jabeur has been suspended from receiving any tournament credentials for the next three months.
A day after the statement was released, Shuai stated that she never forced any player to retire forcefully. In her defense, she added that she had to partner Alison Van Uytvanck at the 2017 Wimbledon doubles event because her previous partner Hsieh Su-Wei (with whom Shuai has won two grand slam doubles titles) was injured. Shuai admitted that she wanted to team up with Sania Mirza but couldn’t do so as the Indian too was injured during the event. This led to Shuai ultimately not entering the doubles event.
Shuai further stated that her coach Bernard Perret had some miscommunication with Van Uytvanck’s coach leading to Perret being reported to the TIU. Shuai says that after she learned about rules, she understood that neither Shuai nor Mirza could select their partners after the deadline. Shuai ultimately accepted Van Uytvanck as her doubles partner.
However, the most crucial part of Shuai’s statement was the following:
” …so I confirmed for partnering Van Uytvanck. I wait for her for over 3 hours after signing but she [Van Uytvanck] didn’t show up. On the first match day I received a message that she withdrew from the doubles match owing to injury. All in all, the withdrawal is her personal action and we never gave her money to force her to withdraw. At that time Mirza and I really wanted to play doubles together, so we told her that we would like to give her Round one prize money to make for her house rent and schedule changing by my ex-coach Bertrand. Besides, I know nothing about the communication between Van Uytvanck and my ex-coach Bertrand.”
VAN UYTVANCK FIRES BACK
On 12th August 2018, Van Uytvanck wrote in a tweet saying that her former coach Alain De Vos and herself were stalked day and night by Shuai Peng who wanted Van Uytvanck to withdraw from the doubles event. According to the tweet, it was Van Uytvanck’s coach who went to the TIU and reported the matter. She ended her little but effective statement with the following lines:
“Since I was a little girl, tennis has been everything for me. Therefore I want this sport to be/stay clean in all his ways.”
The 2017 Wimbledon saw Alison Van Uytvanck losing to Ekaterina Makarova in the opening round. Shuai Peng reached the third round, losing to Simona Halep in straight sets. The case is now paused temporarily after the Chinese player stated that,
“I won’t retire because of this punishment and I will decide to make an appeal to the TIU or not after consulting my lawyer.”