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Tennis body seeks full probe into sexual assault allegations against ex-Chinese Vice Premier

New Delhi, Nov 15 (IANS) The Womens Tennis Association (WTA) has sought a "full, fair and transparent investigation" into sexual assault allegations against China's former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli

Steve Simon, WTA Chairman & CEO said: "The recent events in China concerning a WTA player, Peng Shuai, are of deep concern. As an organization dedicated to women, we remain committed to the principles we were founded on - equality, opportunity and respect."

Simon said Peng and all women, deserve to be heard, not censored.

"Her accusation about the conduct of a former Chinese leader involving a sexual assault must be treated with the utmost seriousness

"In all societies, the behaviour she alleges that took place needs to be investigated, not condoned or ignored. We commend Peng Shuai for her remarkable courage and strength in coming forward. Women around the world are finding their voices so injustices can be corrected".

"We expect this issue to be handled properly, meaning the allegations must be investigated fully, fairly, transparently and without censorship. Our absolute and unwavering priority is the health and safety of our players. We are speaking out so justice can be done."

In a post on Chinese social media site Weibo, Peng said Zhang had "forced" her to have sexual relations with him, the BBC reported.

It is the first time such an allegation has been made against one of China's senior political leaders, the report said.

Zhang has not responded to her claims. The post has since been scrubbed from China's internet.

Searches for Peng, a former number one ranked tennis doubles player, also appear to have been restricted, the report said.

Zhang, 75, served as the Vice Premier between 2013 and 2018 and was a close ally of President Xi Jinping.