Tennis star Peng Shuai reportedly banned for five years over banned substance report

The Women’s Tennis Association said it is “deeply concerned” about news reports that Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has been banned for five years for using an illegal substance.

Peng was banned for four years in 2009 for using the banned substance clenbuterol, which is not allowed in competition. The BBC and Daily Mail, citing unnamed sources, reported earlier this week that she has returned from a medical trip to China, where she may have ingested clenbuterol again.

In a statement, the WTA said Peng has not yet been contacted about the story and “will be given the same courtesy as any other player” when she is informed.

“We’re deeply concerned that any player would violate the anti-doping rules,” the WTA statement said. “Clenbuterol is a substance and use of which is prohibited in anti-doping rules.”

A recent WTA statement cited a recent survey that found 78 percent of global players know what a banned substance is, and 81 percent believe that some players are currently knowingly taking banned substances.

The WTA added it is “actively working to educate players on the importance of taking responsibility and knowing their drug regimen, and to bring those people who are knowingly flouting the rules to justice.”

Clenbuterol works by increasing the body’s production of insulin, a hormone that helps the body burn fat. It was first identified in cattle in the 1960s. Cattle owners used it to improve muscle quality because it burns calories more effectively than weight loss diets.

Some people have taken it in the form of an injectable preparation as a dietary supplement. It has been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency since 2009. The Daily Mail reported that there is no evidence of widespread use of clenbuterol.

The BBC reported that Chongqing’s governments believes Peng was injected by one of its doctors, and that she did not test positive for the drug during tests. Peng is a two-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist. She has been ranked No. 57.

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