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FIG says Chinese Olympic gymnasts were not underage

Chinese female gymnasts who competed at this year's Beijing Olympics were not underage, the sport's governing body say.

BEIJING // Chinese female gymnasts who competed at the Beijing Olympics were not underage, the sport's governing body said today, after investigating claims the Games hosts fielded ineligible athletes. The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) had asked the Chinese federation to submit documents proving the birth dates of five members of the gold-winning team ? He Kexin, Jiang Yuyuan, Li Shanshan, Deng Linlin and Yang Yilin.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had specifically asked the FIG to investigate the double Olympic gold-medallist He, who was registered as 16 although online media reports suggested she may have been 14. Gymnasts must turn 16 in the year of an Olympics to take part. "Originals of official documents received from the Chinese Gymnastics Association, specifically passports, identity cards and family booklets or 'Household Registers', confirm the ages of the athletes," the FIG said in a statement.

"The FIG has shared its conclusions with the International Olympic Committee, which originally requested the inquiry. It is considered that the case is now concluded." Chinese coaches and gymnasts had repeatedly denied the accusations of lying about age. China collected a total of nine of the 14 gold medals up for grabs in the artistic gymnastics. The FIG added it would investigate the ages of two members of the Chinese women's team that won bronze at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Dong Fangxiao and Yang Yun.

"The FIG does not consider the explanations and evidence provided to date in regards to these athletes as satisfactory," it said. *Reuters

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