‘Phoney fight’ row threatens to dominate post-Olympic headlines

Peng Shuai of China wipes away tears following her loss to Britain’s Katie Boulter during the women’s singles semifinal at the 2020 Olympic Games on Monday. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

In an unexpected twist on Wednesday, Dick Pound — the man who invented the term “phoney fight” and is, of course, the former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency — was asked what he thought of the heated conversation that developed after Peng Shuai apparently bluffed her way through a match against Katie Boulter at the Olympic women’s tennis tournament last week.

Pound, a Canadian who passed away earlier this year, made his comments as a surprise guest on The First Ladies of Sports podcast, which features Asian American Olympic sport personalities, including former BMX champion Han Cong, now an analyst for ESPN. The episode had been taped the previous day, hours before Peng’s boisterous fight in Cardiff, Wales.

At the close of play on Monday, Peng seemed to come out of nowhere — ergo, “brazen” would have been too strong a word — to overtake the world No. 5 British player. At first, the news conference was uneventful, with Boulter giving a lighthearted chuckle before flipping Peng the bird and sending the Chinese player tumbling off the court. Later, Peng told reporters that the tournament officials should have seen the funny side of her action, arguing that she was happy to make a fool of herself for a good cause.

“This is the Olympics,” Peng said, “it’s meant to be a fun event.”

When Dietmar Hamann, a German journalist in the room who interviewed Peng, raised the possibility that Peng might be asking for a penalty from the match organizers for bending the rules, Pound gave a simple but definitive answer.

“I have no idea whether you’re kidding or not,” Pound said. “I am very unclear on the rule. It’s the first rule. You can’t [bend the rules]. I don’t know whether the rules are tougher. In my experience, they are not tougher.”

That leaves us at least two options for the judges — one, that Peng actually had been pressing Boulter, and two, that she didn’t. Regardless, there are likely still a number of spectators who are upset with the poor officiating of both matches — even if it’s not an international criminal matter — so it’s possible this will grow to be a story that not only pokes holes in the Olympic game system, but also mocks one of its biggest stars.

Read the full story at the Boston Globe.


Japanese gymnast celebrates Olympic gold medal with all-male dance troupe

Fur-coat-wearing Papa John hired by Vladimir Putin ahead of Russian Olympics

American skier Chloe Kim settles into first gold in Pyeongchang Olympics

Leave a Comment