Peng Shuai takes WTA’s response to drug ban as a serious hint her ban is still in place

The WTA issued a statement Thursday clarifying that a ban imposed on Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai during the Rolex Masters in Miami for failing to report data from her drug test still stands after she filed an appeal. The WTA also said it had no reason to believe that she tested positive, though she has already been suspended by the Chinese Anti-Doping Association since her failed test.

This all came after fellow Chinese tennis star Zheng Jie’s agent said her client had failed a drug test and would miss this week’s French Open in Paris. The first round begins Monday, and Peng Shuai had been scheduled to play at the tournament.

The WTA statement acknowledged there had been suggestions of a pending suspension with Zhai Yingzhu, the agent for Zheng Jie, and that the decision had not been made public as an over-arching rule intended to maintain confidentiality on testing issues. The WTA concluded, however, that the suspension on Peng Shuai had not yet been lifted.

“As Peng Shuai recently filed an appeal, therefore, this case remains in process and the WTA is not in a position to disclose a timetable for her suspension to be lifted,” the statement from the WTA read. “Following the Supreme People’s Court’s entry into the case, the WTA remains deeply concerned about the circumstances related to this matter and the well-being of all players involved.”

The WTA’s statement also emphasized that Zhai Yingzhu’s client’s status could change, and that Peng Shuai still had time to appeal. If Peng Shuai does not appeal and her suspension is upheld, she would still be in the tournament. Peng Shuai could also return in Paris if the Appeals Committee of the WTA gives her the opportunity to appeal, though the more likely scenario is that she would take her suspension to court rather than relish the prospect of playing at Roland Garros.

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