The European Union said Tuesday that it wants China to release “verifiable proof” that tennis player Peng Shuai is safe and to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into her sexual assault allegations.

Peng, a three-time Olympian and former top-ranked doubles player, dropped out of public view after accusing a former Communist Party official of sexual assault.

Peng only has had a few direct contacts with officials outside China since she disappeared from public view earlier this month. She told Olympic officials in a Nov. 21 video call from Beijing that she was safe and well.

“Her recent public reappearance does not ease concerns about her safety and freedom,” an EU spokesperson said.

Peng made the sexual assault allegation online against a former member of the Communist Party’s ruling Standing Committee, Zhang Gaoli. The tennis player’s post was removed within minutes, and she stopped appearing in public.

“The EU joins growing international demands, including by sport professionals, for assurances that she is free and not under threat,” the EU said in a statement. “In this spirit, the EU requests the Chinese government to provide verifiable proof of Peng Shuai’s safety, well-being and whereabouts. The EU urges the Chinese authorities to conduct a full, fair and transparent investigation into her allegations of sexual assault.”

Peng adds to a growing number of Chinese businesspeople, activists and ordinary people who have disappeared from public view in recent years after criticizing party figures or in crackdowns on corruption or pro-democracy and labor rights campaigns.

SOCCER

WOMEN’S WORLD CUP QUALIFYING: The England women’s team swept to the biggest win in its history on Tuesday, beating Latvia 20-0 in a World Cup qualifier.

There were 10 different scorers and four got hat tricks – including Ellen White, who became the team’s record scorer of all time and is now on 48 goals for her country. England’s previous biggest win was 13-0 against Hungary in 2005.

OLYMPICS

SWITZERLAND: Olympic officials in Switzerland urged the federal government to exempt international athletes and officials from new quarantine rules that threaten the hosting of World Cup events in winter sports. People arriving from the rising number of countries on Switzerland’s red list must enter mandatory 10-day quarantine periods to protect against COVID-19 and the aggressive omicron variant.

The red list now includes Canada, where women’s Alpine skiers – including former World Cup champions Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States and Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland – are currently competing at Lake Louise. They are scheduled to travel next to Switzerland for two super-G races at upscale St. Moritz.

Switzerland is also due to host cross-country skiing at Davos, ski jumping at Engelberg and ski cross races at Arosa in the next three weeks. Swiss Olympic warned of difficulties under the current rules for athletes who “can no longer practice their profession,” plus sports clubs and the wider economy, such as hotels and restaurants.

TRACK AND FIELD

DOPING BAN: Moroccan runner Halima Hachlaf was banned for six years for a second doping offense.

Hachlaf, who ran in the 800 meters at the 2012 London Olympics, tested positive for a synthetic steroid hormone at a race in Rabat in January. She did not have an exemption to use it as a medicine, the Athletics Integrity Unit said in its verdict.

The 33-year-old runner previously served a four-year ban for suspected blood doping and returned to compete at the 2019 world championships in Doha, Qatar. She was eliminated in the 800 semifinals.


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