BEIJING: China’s gymnastics team chief has denied that the country had falsified the ages of two of their squad members to allow them to compete at next month’s Beijing Olympics.
A report in the New York Times at the weekend said that He Kexin and Jiang Yuyuan were not yet 16 as registered, citing previous online registration records and media reports.
International Gymnastics Federation (FIGS) rules forbid athletes younger than 16 years old from competing at major championships and the Olympic Games.
However, Chinese team manager Zhang Peiwen insisted yesterday that the age of all the members of the team had been recorded according to official documents.
“Our Olympic squads were recently named and we registered their ages according to their identity cards or other legal certifications presented by their regional gymnastics associations, which show they all are over the minimum age for the Olympics,” Peiwen told state news agency Xinhua.
Several references to the two gymnasts on the Internet give them the younger ages, while others make them old enough to compete.
“There’s a lot of online information and reports,” Peiwen added.
“We haven’t got the time to check every piece but everybody knows not all of them are reliable.”
Suspicions of sports officials altering the age of athletes has long been a feature of Chinese sport.
New Jersey Nets forward Yi Jianlian, now officially 20, had struggled in an age controversy before he was picked sixth by Milwaukee Bucks in the 2007 NBA Draft. – Reuters