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Scandal of the Ages: Documents Reveal Underage Chinese Gymnast

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Scandal of the Ages: Documents Reveal Underage Chinese Gymnast The world's foremost expert on female gymnastics Bela Karolyi has routinely referred to the 2008 Chinese team as "half people" and in his contributions to NBC as a commentator during the Games he has railed against the Chinese for engaging in age falsification. After China outscored the US in the qualification round, Karolyi had this to say about the Chinese gymnastics officials: "These people think we are stupid. . .We are in the business of gymnastics. We know what a kid of 14 or 15 or 16 looks like. What kind of slap in the face is this? They are 12, 14-years-old . . ." See the documents for yourself.

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Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
Well, one factor is that not many countries push their athletes as hard as china does.
crystalm07 crystalm07 8 years
I have been finding it odd since the beginning of competition how well China is doing overall during these games...It wouldn't surprise me a bit if they had conspiracies throughtout the events.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
But incredibly cute.
kscincotta kscincotta 8 years
Actually, I would argue that our female divers and our female gymnasts look comparable in age. I'm sticking with just the divers because diving generally favors the same body type as gymnastics (and in fact, many divers start out in gymnastics). I would argue that Kelci Bryant (19, 5'3"), Hayley Ishimatsu (16, 4'11") and Mary Beth Dunnichay (15, 5'0") would fit right in with our gymnasts. Although I agree, Shawn Johnson is ridiculously tiny.
amybdk amybdk 8 years
TRUE, kscincotta. However, the same holds true for the American swimmers / gymnasts. Do you suppose they are covering up their age too? What would anyone over the age of 16 -- the minimal age requirement -- have to gain from saying they were older? Shawn Johnson, IMO looks very young! She doesn't exactly look 16.
kscincotta kscincotta 8 years
I've heard a lot of people rationalizing this issue by saying that Asian children generally look very young, and certainly, they do. However, as my mom pointed out, the Chinese divers also claim to be 16 and they look significantly older than the supposedly equally 16 year old gymnasts.
amybdk amybdk 8 years
I don't have much faith in the resolve of this dispute. Remember in 2004 when the Korean Yan Tae Young was cheated from his gold medal? The JUDGDES made a scoring mistake and wouldn't / couldn't / didn't correct the situation. I'd be so bitter... Gymnastics seems like it is the most political, corrupt, fishy sport at the Olympics. I'm stressed out now. I need to eat one of cabaker's cupcakes.
sw33tlovin sw33tlovin 8 years
i didn't think it was a big deal. i didn't get the whole age thing. but then i read an article that said that the reason there is an age limit is because when you are younger, gymnastics comes easier; you're barely hitting puberty and your bones aren't fully grown yet. there is also a health risk, having to train at an olympic level at that age. now, i don't think it's right. but it is what it is & i don't think they should be stripped of the gold medal. the IOC needs to start doing their job.
yaleryn yaleryn 8 years
CHINA's 23 GOLDS! Awesome :)
Meike Meike 8 years
If the IOC strips them of their gold medals, Chinese citizens might know they cheated or maybe they do know and just don't care. After all the evidence shows that it already was reported in the Chinese media that He was 13 in 2007.
janneth janneth 8 years
So just because their government says they are a certain age via a passport, that is the accepted proof? Then why do they have drug testing? Why don't governments just say whether an athlete is on drugs or not? Ha!
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years not surprised.
organicsugr organicsugr 8 years
Yeah all that nonsense about being short was really out of left field. No one accused the Chinese of being too short.
flutterpie flutterpie 8 years
Yes, maybe age restrictions should be removed for women's gymnastics so that these kinds of controversy don't happen again So instead of making countries play by the rules we should just remove the rules so that the countries wont cheat? as far the chinese being shorter that could of been an argument if their "20" year old didnt look 16
Michelann Michelann 8 years
"Not to mention, the timing of his comments is not at all obvious..." Actually, he was saying this before the Chinese won gold.
Miaomiaochan Miaomiaochan 8 years
Uh, many of these girls come from rural families who can hardly afford to put food on their tables. Some of the Chinese weightlifters are also in this situation. The training may be strenuous and emotionally taxing, but winning these types of competitions is an important means for supporting the families financially. The parents mentioned above are just part of that sad reality. And, us Chinese are typically pretty short. A girl who is actually 16 and short for her age could easily be mistaken to be 12, 13. Heck, I'm 22 and people still mistake me for a teen. This isn't to say that the documents aren't falsified, but China has its share of world-class athletes who had never broken 5'. Referring to the members of the Chinese gymnastics team as "half people" is pretty insulting. He is right, though, about the girls being used as "pawns" in China's attempt to win the most gold in this Olympiad. No, it isn't fair, and it's something that people should take issue with. Yes, maybe age restrictions should be removed for women's gymnastics so that these kinds of controversy don't happen again. But aren't children used as pawns all over the world and for purposes far more sinister than winning gold medals? Not to mention, the timing of his comments is not at all obvious...(sarcasm).
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
they should strip them of the team medal, and disqualify the chinese team, sorry but thats what is fair.
Jillness Jillness 8 years
Cubadog that is so sad! Poor girls! I agree...the multiple documents they have are pretty damning. Does the rest of the world know about this, or is it mostly just America that is hearing about this?
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
I feel sad for these girls. From what I am hearing, they have very little choice in the matter. I am sure this girl didn't ask the authorities to forge her passport so she could participate. What a horrible situation to find yourself in. I am sure that they will be devastated to be stripped of the medal, seems that it is the only fair thing to do.
ajhodge ajhodge 8 years
This scandal has been brewing for some time. First the lip syncing at the opening ceremony and now this...
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 8 years
I just read that full article. It's pretty damning evidence. They should be stripped of the medal.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Since their scores were primary to the team competition, the team should be disqualified. Any/all scores on the individual competitions should be removed, and medals redistributed accordingly.
cubadog cubadog 8 years
I am not shocked that they forged her documents at all. Listening to the commentators talk about taking these girls away from their famlies to train at 3 years old and only getting to see their parents once a year is messed up to say the least. One of them called her parents because she wanted to quit and her parents wouldn't let her because their life is so good. I guess winning at any cost is more important. Go China you rock!
Jillness Jillness 8 years
I heard one of the Olympic Committee members say something that Passports are considered approved documents, and since her passport (possibly falsified by the Chinese government) says she is 16, they can't question them. So if a government enables cheating, it is ok?
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
Will the whole team be disqualified, or just her?
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