By Pritha Sarkar
LONDON (Reuters) - Former Wimbledon doubles champion Peng Shuai's season was all but over on Wednesday after she was handed a six-month ban and a $10,000 fine for breaching the sport’s anti-corruption code by attempting to change her doubles partner after sign-in deadline.
China's Peng, who triumphed at Wimbledon in 2013 and claimed the French Open doubles title a year later, was found to have used coercion and offered the possibility of financial reward in return for her main draw partner agreeing to withdraw from the women's doubles event at Wimbledon in 2017.
Although the offer was refused and Peng did not compete in the doubles at the All England Club last July, the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) said in a statement that her actions breached Tennis Anti-Corruption Program (TACP) rules.
They state that “no covered person shall, directly or indirectly, contrive or attempt to contrive the outcome or any other aspect of any event”.
"Today’s decision... imposes a six months ban, with three months suspended, and $10,000 fine, with $5,000 suspended, on condition that no further breaches of the TACP are committed," the TIU said in a statement.
"The suspension applies with immediate effect and means that the player cannot compete in or attend any event organised, sanctioned or recognised by the governing bodies of the sport."
The suspension means Peng, ranked 20th in doubles and 80th in singles, will be ruled out from the WTA Tour till Nov. 8, after which only minor tournaments will be staged.
The 32-year old was the number one ranked doubles player in February, 2014 and has a career-best singles ranking of 14 achieved in August, 2011. She has won two singles and 21 doubles titles during her career.
Peng’s former French coach, Bertrand Perret, was suspended from obtaining tournament credentials for three months for the same offence.
(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ed Osmond)