More on possible Chinese age falsification

From no less than The New York Times. This article questions not only uneven bars favorite He Kexin, but also 2007 World team member Jiang Yuyuan, a candidate for an all-around medal.

Jiang Yuyuan won the Good Luck Beijing International Invitational.

The Times found two online records of official registration lists of Chinese gymnasts that list He’s birthday as Jan. 1, 1994, which would make her 14. A 2007 national registry of Chinese gymnasts — now blocked in China but viewable through Google cache — shows He’s age as “1994.1.1.”

Another registration list that is unblocked, dated Jan. 27, 2006, and regarding an “intercity” competition in Chengdu, China, also lists He’s birthday as Jan. 1, 1994. That date differs by two years from the birth date of Jan. 1, 1992, listed on He’s passport, which was issued Feb. 14, 2008.

…The other gymnast, Jiang, is listed on her passport — issued March 2, 2006 — as having been born on Nov. 1, 1991, which would make her 16 and thus eligible to compete at the Beijing Games.

A different birth date, indicating Jiang is not yet 15, appears on a list of junior competitors from the Zhejiang Province sports administration. The list of athletes includes national identification card numbers into which birth dates are embedded. Jiang’s national card number as it appears on this list shows her birth date as Oct. 1, 1993, which indicates that she will turn 15 in the fall, and would thus be ineligible to compete in the Beijing Games.

Are these the faces of 16-year-olds, or girls under 16?

He Kexin, 2008 Cottbus Cup Event Finals, Uneven Bars:

Jiang Yuyuan, 2008 Doha World Cup, Floor Exercise:

Chinese authorities interviewed by the newspaper chalk it up to errors on the part of sports reporters and minor bureaucrats. The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) seems to have thrown up its hands.

“We heard these rumors, and we immediately wrote to the Chinese gymnastics federation” about He, said André Gueisbuhler, the secretary general of the international federation. “They immediately sent a copy of the passport, showing the age, and everything is O.K. That’s all we can check.”

One problem is that regardless of their ages, if they win medals in Beijing, He and Jiang will undoubtedly deserve them. He’s is arguably the best bar routine in the world. Jiang deserves her status as dark horse all-around contender. Should they be kept out even if they’re underage, when gymnastics has such a history of world class 14-year-olds?

There’s plenty of evidence that being young and talented isn’t the best formula for success, anyway. Look at Dominique Moceanu circa 1996, then circa 1998. She was far better at 16 than she was at 14, and probably could have peaked during the 2000 Olympics had not all the injuries and personal dramas gotten in the way.

Nowadays, people like Alicia Sacramone and Chellsie Memmel are proving female gymnasts can be 20 and at the top of their game.

There’s plenty of evidence that being young and talented isn’t the best formula for success, anyway. Look at Dominique Moceanu circa 1996, then circa 1998. She was far better at 16 than she was at 14, and probably could have peaked during the 2000 Olympics had not all the injuries
and personal dramas gotten in the way.

Dominique Moceanu, 1996 Olympic Games Event Finals, Floor Exercise:

Dominique Moceanu, 1998 Goodwill Games All Around, Floor Exercise:

Nowadays, people like Alicia Sacramone and Chellsie Memmel are proving female gymnasts can be 20 and at the top of their game.

Forget the judging. Forget the code of points. The big scandal of this Olympic Games is going to be all about age.

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19 Responses to “More on possible Chinese age falsification”

  1. Poli Says:

    Interesting excerpt from the NYT article:

    “But it is not likely that anyone could prove that the Chinese gymnasts are under age, Karolyi said.”

    “It’s literally impossible,” he said. “The paperwork is changed just too good. In a country like that, they’re experts at it. Nothing new.”

    Sorry I just had to laugh. A great example of a pot calling the kettle black.

  2. NYT covers age fakery « Shergymrag Says:

    […] via: Gymnicetics and LBLGymnastics and Gymblog […]

  3. marie Says:

    its really funny how karoyli commented when in fact he and her wife has produced underage world champs. hehe.

  4. TCO Says:

    Just look at them. They’re way young.

  5. jaz Says:

    I’m not saying they’re not too young but as a general rule, Asians also look WAY younger than they really are. Plus factoring in the stunted/late puberty of many gymnasts, it can be really difficult to tell just by looking at them.

  6. Angela Says:

    I remember seeing the 1/1/94 birthday listed for Kexin until she started hitting the Li Ya combo and was totally unsurprised to see it magically jump a couple of years. I’m more surprised bu JYY because although I thought she seemed too young, I never actually saw a discrepancies in her birthdates myself. I expected Yang Yilin to be the second athlete named because I have heard hers was switched in the 18 months as well.

  7. Lillian Says:

    Well…. I imagine they are young. But I am one of those people who believes that if they are the best, and they win, let’s just not contest the medals. Anybody thinking about a little North Korean girl in 1991? Of course she was too young, but does anybody deny her right to the medals she won by sheer brilliance on UB?

    In a only slightly related note- Wow! Kexin has a lot of built-in deductions that I noticed much more in this video clip. Muscled kips, not hitting her pirouetting skills in handstands, etc. I think Yang Yilin actually has a better routine..

  8. drusha Says:

    no she should NOT compete or win if she is too young (which look at her face, she def. is!!) It is AGAINST the rules.

  9. liz Says:

    It is really hard to tell with gymnasts, because a lot of them have trained hard enough to stunt their growth, but the REASON there’s an age restriction is because of the lighter weight of younger gymnasts making it so much easier for them to perform harder tricks, and that younger athletes tend to be so much more fearless… so while they will have earned them, they’ve got built in advantages that the age restriction is there to erase…

  10. gt Says:

    Kim Gwan Suk was amazing but she was penalized harshly for a small mistake in 1992 and didn’t win a medal, then the N Korean federation was banned for falsifying ages. Every country competing in gymnastics would love to show off their junior athletes at worlds and Olympics but most of them won’t falsify documents to do it. Also, I never heard of Karolyi falsifying ages for competition. I read that he broke rules to have Comaneci do an exhibition performance (not compete) when she was 13 or so. The cases with Silivas, Gogean and Marinescu didn’t involve Karolyi.

  11. Will Says:

    Age should not be a factor. If a six year old can do something better than a 16 yera old, then I say let them compete and may the better one win.

    But as age should not count against them, age should not count for them either. judges should not refrain from deducting because a younger performer is able to do, but not at the same caliber, as the older performer.

    And to the comments about “Look at her, she is obviously underage.” I expect you to be a face analysis expert because looking at those pictures.

    Finally, China forging paperwork should be grounds for their expulsion from the games. It’s not a matter of fairness in competition, but its adherence to rules. There is a process for people to appeal their grievances, but to do so without official consent is cheating. every other country has to follow these rules, what makes China any different?

  12. GymFanInTexas Says:

    What about Lenlin Deng? She looks younger than any of the others and according to the Beijing Olympics (NBC) website, her birthday is 5/22/93. Don’t you have to be 16 by Dec. 31st? She just turned 15 in May.

  13. Mike Says:

    I cant believe that these chinese bast**** are getting away with all of this cr**. This is blatant cheating, and they should have some penalties. Also, the passport fraud is an international crime. It isnt the fault of the gymnasts, dont get me wrong, but rather of the stupid government. They do whatever the hell it takes to win, and this is over the line. There is evidence out there that gymnastics becomes more difficult as time progresses (age-wise) due to changes in the muscle anatomy of the body. So the Chinese deserve to be fuc**** banned from these events and in the future events. Ass*****. Why should we get silver when we dont cheat? Why do they get gold? Idiots!

  14. Candi Says:

    couldnt they be evaluated by a un doctor or something? I mean a medical prof. should be able to determine their approx. age. As for the people who say its only fair that if the younger are better they should win, wouldnt we also have sent younger contestants if it were to our advantage…i think its obviouse china has cheeted, and its unfair to every country represented!

  15. galllatea Says:

    I’ts not really the point of who is best, it’s about who is following the rules. It’s called cheating no matter how pretty it’s packaged. Gymnasts may have stunted height or delayed puberty, but there are other indicators that these girls are less than 16 like the ratio of their iris’s and the shape of their cranium and ears. Those are not effected by exercise and neither are teeth. The one Chinese girl has missing teeth just like a 6 year old that I know. There is no other explanation than that they are cheating, lying and falsifying documents. But it’s not surprising. If North Korea was punished for doing it, so should China. I hope they get caught. They are doing nothing more than showing how greedy they are for medals at any cost.

  16. Age falsification for some Chinese gymnists? « Dan’s Tech-n-Stuff Weblog Says:

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  17. Christie Says:

    A few of those Chinese girls are way too young! Yes, Asians do tend to look younger than Whites, but remember that Japanese, Koreans, etc. were also competing, so the Chinese should be able to point to the pictures of those teams and say, “Look, see, all or most Asian girls in gymnastics just look young to you because of genetics.” But they cannot because if you look at the Japanese gymnasts, those girls look 16 or older, even though they are Asian. And, yes, sometimes family traits can make a person look younger/older than actual age, but if 3 of the girls on a 6 person team made up of girls who aren’t related look too young, then it’s something that needs to be investigated.

  18. cynthia Says:

    I believe that half the team is under age and the chinese government needs to own up to the truth.
    The bone structure of the chinese women gymnastics teams shows the truth that they are not 16 years old and the weight of each of them.
    I know for a fact because I have studies bone structure of various ethinic groups and these girls are not 16 years old and it can be proven.
    The facts just are not being heard because of the negative things that could happen to americans and others who state this.
    I can’t that they are not investigating this and going on passports and not birth certificate.

  19. L.Bean Says:

    Yeah it would be really bright to call these honorable chinese liars.
    Particularly when you are in THEIR country and wish to come home in one piece!
    Over there, when you get punked, they take you to a field and put a bullet in the back of your head!

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