|China's Li Na hits a return during the women's singles second round match against Sweden's Arvidsson at the U.S. Open tennis championships in New York, Aug. 28, 2013. Li Na won 2-0. (Xinhua/Fang Zhe)|
The New York Times has apologized to Li Na for carrying a misleading report, alleging that China's top star was forced into retirement in 2002 because she refused to take "steroid pills".
In the story carried earlier this week, the New York Times recalled the reasons why Li had first decided to quit tennis in 2002, namely that her then national coach had tried to squelch her romance with Jiang Shan, who is now her husband, and forced her to take steroid pills which she was allergic to.
The reporter admitted that the story was a combination of an interview with Li and contents from her biography "Fighting Alone", which is in Chinese. However, in the book, Li said that she was asked by her coach to take a hormone medicine to adjust her unstable menstrual period but she refused because she was allergic to it.
The New York Times story mistook "hormone medicine" for "steroid pills" in translation, which almost suggested Li was being forced to dope, sparking an uproar among readers.
The paper sent an apology letter to Li's agent, who showed it to media after her post-match press conference at the US Open on Wednesday, where she beat Sweden's Sofia Arvidsson to advance to the third round.