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FIG Clears Chinese Champions
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He Kexin
The FIG announced Wednesday that it had concluded its inquiry into the age of Chinese gymnasts at the 2008 Olympic Games, finding no evidence of age falsification.

The federation said it confirmed all six gymnasts were of legal competition age in Beijing. At the FIG's request, the Chinese Gymnastics Association provided official documents including passports, identity cards and household registers that supported their age.

The IOC urged the FIG to open an investigation into the ages of Chinese team members He Kexin and Yang Yilin, after accusations were made during the Olympics that the two were under the minimum competition age of 16.

The Chinese women won the team gold medal in Beijing, and He Kexin won the gold medal on the uneven bars. Yang won bronze medals in the all-around and on uneven bars.

"Asians have different figures than people from the West, so that's what caused their suspicion," said men's head coach Huang Yubin, when asked about the controversy. "They shouldn't be suspicious."

The federation said it is still looking into the ages of 2000 Olympians Yang Yun and Dong Fangxiao. China won the bronze medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, which concluded eight years ago Tuesday.

Yang said in an interview that she was 14 in Sydney, but explained later it was a slip of the tongue.

"The FIG does not consider the explanations and evidence provided to date in regards to these athletes as satisfactory," the federation said in a statement Wednesday.

FIG Secretary General Andre Gueisbuhler said Dong obtained a credential for the 2008 Olympics using documents that indicate she was only 14 in 2000, according to the AP. Dong worked as line judge in Beijing.

"I would hope that the whole world in sport realizes that the FIG is serious about these rules and the ethics and moral questions," Gueisbuhler said.

Since an age requirement of 15 was first established in 1981, numerous gymnastics champions have admitted after retirement that they competed using false documents, including Soviets Olga Bicherova and Olga Mostepanova, and Romanians Lavinia Agache, Gina Gogean, Alexandra Marinescu and Daniela Silivas.

The only nation punished to date for age falsification in gymnastics is North Korea, which was banned from the 1993 World Championships after varying birthdates were given for Kim Gwang Suk. Kim was registered as 15 years old at the 1989 World Championships, at the 1991 World Championships and at the 1992 Olympic Game.

The minimum age requirement was changed to 16 beginning in 1997.

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