Even after their gold medal finish, China is facing widespread suspicion that it forged documents to use underaged girls in the competition in violation of Olympic rules. Half of the team appear much younger than 16. After China used an attractive nine-year-old girl to lip sync the opening song because the actual girl singing was viewed as too homely (here), many people believed that the Chinese are perfectly capable of such deception. For my part, I am just relieved that there is finally a legal issue at the Olympics to talk about.
It appears that only documentation offered on the girls was the passport issued by the Chinese government. However, reporters have found online documents that raise questions about three of the girls. Yang Yilin, a medal contender in the all-around and uneven bars, was born Aug. 26, 1993, according to the 2004, 2005 and 2006 registration lists previously posted on the Web site of the General Administration of Sport of China. That would make her only 15. However, one year before games in 2007, her birth date suddenly changed to August 26, 1992.
He Kexin and Jiang Yuyuan face similar allegations.
Many believe that this is a repeat of the fraud committed by North Korea in 1993 when Gwang Suk was found to have been listed as 15 years old for three years in a row. Romania was also found to have falsified ages for Olympic medalists.
At least one Chinese medalist admitted that her age was falsified in 2000. Yang Yun won two bronze medals and apparently was not required to give them back (which may explain the lack of deterrence on the issue).
It seems that Chinese athletes tend to be born on the first of given months.
He’s birth date is listed as Jan. 1, 1994 in the 2005, 2006 and 2007 registration lists and Jiang shows an Oct. 1, 1993, birth date.
Alternate Sui Lu also shows changes birth dates. The 2004 and 2005 registration lists include an athlete named Sui Lu who was born on April 1, 1993. In the 2006 and 2007 lists, however, the birthday is given as April 1, 1992.
There is obviously a lack of enforcement and deterrence in the area. If this trend continues, the next games will feature a zygote in the swimming competition.
6 thoughts on “The Golden Years: China Challenged Over Age of Female Gymnasts”
Jill & Mespo,
Thank you. you know I feel the same about your comments. Incidentally, last night my wife and I stayed up to 1:30 am watching the Women’s Gymnastic Finals, where the Gold and Silver medal were won by Katia & Shawn from the US. While normally past our bedtime, we felt compelled to watch because there was some suspicious judging that occurred that seemed to favor the Chinese gymnasts. Although I’m by no means an expert on gymnastics I’ve been watching the Olympics for more than fifty years and have always felt the judging is suspect. Not being jingoisticly inclined my interest was not about USA! USA!
While I would never have encouraged my daughters to go through the rigors of Olympic Training, I can well empathize with the work, pain and sacrifice these athletes go through to even get to the Olympics. It therefore offends me that greed, politics and personal prejudice rules the Olympic World in any event requiring judging. I shed tears at the ending last night, while at the same time a part of my brain mocked my emotional involvement.
These mixed feelings are invoked in me because I celebrate the humanity in all of us, while I decry the savagery and hypocrisy with which we treat each other. The older I get the more complex life seems to be and the easy opinions seem those of fools. As the lawyers on this site well know from their training, most issues can be argued from either side.
Ditto me too.
I really value your posts. They are always thoughtful.
I’ve put in many guilty hours of watching these Olympics. The guilt stems from the fact that the Chinese Government has devolved into a classic model of Fascist Dictatorship, i.e.
The interweaving of totalitarian government with business interests. This Olympics should never have been given to China if one is to view awarding them from the purported ideals of the Olympic Committee. However, it is plainly true that the Olympics are propelled more by greed and corporate interests, than by a mythical “Olympic Spirit.”
Yet I watch, fascinated by the dedication of individual athletes to achieving success in their sport and with the knowledge that having the skill to be among the World’s Best Athletes, is an achievement to take pride in. Even as I watch though, I listen to corporate shill announcers focussed only on building narratives that draw too sharp distinctions between winning and losing.
Those girls certainly didn’t look and probably weren’t 16. As Jill said the performance enhancement issues are swept under the rug despite pious pronouncements to the contrary.
Children are removed from their parent’s care at young ages to pursue a dream that will cast most of them as failures.
That is not just China, many other countries have been doing similar things for years, including the US where pre-teen tennis prodigy’s go to live with coaches, rather than their families.
The biggest lie of all is that the Olympics are not about politics. It is all about politics, business and the prestige of countries. Despite all that I find myself watching rapt in my chair for hours, often moved to tears, and rooting for the “good guys.” A sucker for the drama of it all.
And no one is using steroids either. I think the Olympics should just be called the World Wide Mixed Marital Arts/Mad Max Memorial Tournament and leave it at that. (With the exception of no steroids or brutal training regimes for children. This is destructive to the minds and bodies of young people.)
I do wish the steroid information was public. These doping doctors seem to know a great deal on how to help people and it’s time for an open evaluation of these “interventions” to see if they can benefit the wider population.
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