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FIG Suspends North Korea for Two Years
(9 votes, average 4.56 out of 5)

North Korea's gymnasts will be out of competition for two full years because of the changing ages for 2004 Olympian Hong Su Jong, the FIG announced Friday.

North Korea is suspended from international competition until October 2012 for age falsification and false registration, the International Gymnastics Federation announced Friday.

As IG reported in September, North Korean gymnast Hong Su Jong's birth year has appeared over the years as 1985, 1986 and 1989. For the 2010 World Championships, the North Korean federation submitted Hong's birth year as 1989, meaning she was underage at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

On Oct. 5, the FIG's Disciplinary Commission provisionally suspended the North Korean federation for 30 days, leaving the country out of October's world championships in Rotterdam. North Korea appealed but the FIG upheld the suspension, stating the federation's offered excuses for the varying birth dates were not credible.

Hong's case is the second age falsification offense for North Korea. The North Korean women were banned from the 1993 World Championships after the FIG discovered gymnast Kim Gwang Suk had been registered as being 15 from 1989-1991.

The FIG Presidential Commission followed the Disciplinary Commission's recommendation to suspend North Korea for two years, from Oct. 6, 2010 to Oct. 5, 2012, and to forbid its participation "in any capacity in any competition or activity authorised or organised by the FIG, any Union, any National Federation, any club or in any international event."

The FIG stated that Hong also is not allowed to compete in any domestic competition during that period of time.

"The FIG's decision is a clear signal to those who would willfully disregard the current rules surrounding gymnast age. The health of its athletes and respect for the law are among the International Gymnastics Federation's highest priorities," the FIG stated.

The sanction includes not only the women's team, but also North Korea's male gymnasts and rhythmic gymnasts. Notably this affects male standout Ri Se Gwang, the only gymnast who has competed two vaults of the maximum difficulty of 7.2 (piked double front-half and Tsukahara double back with a full twist).

The latest birth date for Hong Su Jong — March 9, 1989 — confirms the long-held suspicion that she and her sister, Hong Un Jong, are twins. Hong Un Jong, whose date of birth has been listed consistently as March 9, 1989, won the gold medal on vault at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Hong Un Jong did not compete at the 2004 Olympics.

The FIG also hit the North Korean federation with a fine of 20,000 Swiss Francs (approximately $20,800). Several years ago, the North Korean federation was temporarily suspended from the FIG for being unable to pay its membership dues.

The FIG showed leniency, however, by not stripping Hong of the silver medal she won on vault at the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart for the infraction of "false registration." Although a 1989 year of birth would have been made her age eligible in 2007, Hong was registered in Stuttgart using a passport that listed her year of birth as 1986. All passports are photocopied, the FIG told IG. However, the FIG could not determine that 1986 is a false birthdate.

North Korea may appeal the sanction in writing within 21 days, the FIG stated.

Click here to download FIG Disciplinary Committee's findings and recommendation for suspension.

Comments (27)add comment
..., Low-rated comment [Show]

Lora said:

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The only thing that's not fair is singling her out and saying she can't even compete at national meets. She was only 14 when this all started and obviously it was beyond her control. I wonder how soon North Korea must pay that fine.
 
November 05, 2010
Votes: +3

Laura S. said:

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I'm really glad they let her keep her World silver medal! The FIG needs to eliminate the age rule ASAP!!! Give these gymnasts, especially the girls, more than one chance to make it on an Olympic team!
 
November 05, 2010
Votes: +0

Alicia said:

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So why is North Korea suspended, when China never was?
 
November 05, 2010
Votes: +7

Stacy said:

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Probably because it's their second offense. If China gets caught again I bet they would be suspended too.
 
November 05, 2010
Votes: +2

leo knoll said:

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Because China is a super power in gymnastics.
It's easy to to pick on a tiny nation like North Korea.
It makes people think the FIG is doing something.
 
November 05, 2010 | url
Votes: -2

Tanya said:

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The North Koreans deserve this sentence because of their incredible stupidity. It's really not that hard to fake ages and not get caught, which is why the age limit itself is ridiculous. The hardest part in faking ages is getting the gymnasts to keep quiet after the fact. The fact that North Korea got caught using an ACTIVE gymnast because they themselves gave THREE DIFFERENT birthdates for her... when they ALREADY GOT CAUGHT doing the same thing 17 years ago.... I'm just stunned at how stupid they are. If I weren't sad for the gymnasts, I would find it funny.
 
November 05, 2010
Votes: +9

Lora said:

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I feel the same way Tanya. I am flabbergasted over it all. How could they make a mistake and change her year of birth three times? The Chinese and Romanians must be rolling on the floor laughing.... smilies/grin.gif
 
November 05, 2010
Votes: +3
..., Low-rated comment [Show]

Frank Hui said:

Frank Hui
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North Korea basically is receiving this punishment because it is a repeat offense. If the FIG didn't do this, they would lose what slither of credibility they still have. In addition they deserve it for being so stupid about it. But China was caught only once. If China got caught doing it again you know there would be a demand for similar punishment. However it is excessive and unfair to prevent Hong from domestic meets. You might as well just end her career outright. She's the least to blame in this situation. Banning her even at the local level hurts everyone. The real pity in all this is her absence makes for a less exciting vault finals. I'm sure Alicia Sacramone would have preferred to have Hong at this past Worlds to compete against. it would have made her win that much more satisfying
 
November 06, 2010
Votes: +0

Vanya Marinova said:

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Will North Korea compete at the 2012 Olympics now ?
 
November 06, 2010
Votes: -1

leo knoll said:

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It's absolutely and completely unfair!!!!
 
November 06, 2010 | url
Votes: -3

Diane Lee said:

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We really must focus on the really important issue here. THe "age limit".. It SHOULD be lifted or go back to what it was,15 in the year of the olypmics. Also the OTHER BIG issue is the FIG. THey are the ones that need to go. Esp Bruno Grandhi and Nelli Kim. Why do they change so much in this sport?? Do they even "like" gymnastics. Really I agree that North Korea should be punished, but feel sorry for the gymnast. They really have no control over it. ANd doe ANYONE think that China, Romania and Russia dont bend this RIDiculous rule. Lets take a vote and really see if the gymnast, past and present and the FANS agree..
 
November 06, 2010 | url
Votes: +2

patterson Lisa said:

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My throughs on this would make it very hard, but North Korea has to learn from they mistakes. It would be a good timing for they gymnasts to train very hard until after the Olympic Games are over.
I wish the China's team got more than a warning and medals taken away.
I also think that the Romanians should get it too because with all the age falsification.
 
November 06, 2010
Votes: +1

leo knoll said:

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And USA too! They also did it.
 
November 07, 2010 | url
Votes: +0

Lora said:

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Huh? When did the USA falsify ages?
 
November 07, 2010
Votes: -1

leo knoll said:

November 08, 2010 | url
Votes: +0

leo knoll said:

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I don't think we should be so harsh on them since some of our own have done it too.
 
November 08, 2010 | url
Votes: +0

Lora said:

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Which US gymnasts had their ages falsified? I'm beginning to think Leo is a troll... he can't be serious.
 
November 08, 2010
Votes: +1

leo knoll said:

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1989, 1990, 1991, 2004, 2007, 2010.
I know she doesn't understand but i'm not going to feel sorry for her either. That's unkind of her but that's fine too. If she acts like that I won't share my knowledge. I know she doesn't mean it. It's fine. Really.
Somebody else needs to help her not me.
 
November 08, 2010 | url
Votes: -1

leo knoll said:

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Yes I realize the girl has problems but that's no reason to call people names. It's not necessary.
 
November 08, 2010 | url
Votes: +0

Stacy said:

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Leo, which USA gymnasts' ages were faked in "1989, 1990, 1991, 2004, 2007, 2010" as you said? It is basically impossible to fake a US gymnast's age, sorry. It would be impossible for USA Gymnastics to get a falsified passport or birth certificate. And think of all the gymnasts who were left off world and Olympic teams through the years because they were too young by one year - like Kristal Uzelac (2000), Nastia Liukin (2004), Rebecca Bross (200smilies/cool.gif and Jordyn Wieber (2010). Until you give us proof, nobody will believe you.
 
November 09, 2010
Votes: -1

leo knoll said:

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1989, 1990, 1991 = Kim Gwang Suk.
2004, 2007, 2010 = Hong Su Jong.
 
November 09, 2010 | url
Votes: +1

leo knoll said:

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He's no longer coaching, just his wife does because of the scandal.
 
November 09, 2010 | url
Votes: +0

leo knoll said:

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It's better that you don't mention any names here because we don't want the FIG to ban her team like they did North Korea.
Just keep it to yourself.
He's no longer coaching anyway; that's good enough!
 
November 09, 2010 | url
Votes: +0

Amelia said:

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I have no sympathy for the PRK federation. They raised Hong's age so they could get her into the University Games and Olympics, they kept changing it and they were caught. It's that simple.

I don't like the age limit but while it is in effect, everyone has to follow it. Period. The USA could have used Nastia in the 2004 Athens Olympics. The Canadians could have used Charlotte Mackie in 2008. There are standout gymnasts from every nation who watched the Olympics on TV because they were too young. Why do they have to play by the rules when PRK doesn't?

Also, for those who are bemoaning Hong Su Jong's personal suspension, keep in mind that it's HER second offense in three years. The FIG banned her once before, from 2007 to 2009, for doping. Whatever her federation is doing with her, they're obviously either oblivious to the rules, or they think the rules don't apply to them.
 
November 12, 2010
Votes: +2

Amelia said:

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And RE: the USA falsifying ages. It would be extremely hard, if not impossible, to pull that off because Americans have a very visible paper trail from the time they're born. As soon as they get a social security number they can be tracked, and most people get those as babies. Given the Freedom of Information Act, the huge amount of data mining and SSN compiling that goes on, it would be pretty hard to alter a gymnast's age and give her official documents to back it up.
 
November 12, 2010
Votes: +1

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