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China denies Olympic gymnast is underage

Latest update : 2008-08-05

Chinese authorities have denied a report on a state-run Web site that Olympic gymnast Yang Yilin is under the minimum legal age for Olympic participation.

Chinese sporting chiefs on Monday rejected accusations that another member of its Olympic gymnastics team may be underage, after a prominent state-run media outlet said she was only 14.

Yang Yilin, a national all-around champion and bronze medallist at the 2007 world championships on the uneven bar, was born on August 26, 1993, according to a profile posted on the China Central Television Web site.

That means she is only 14 years old, while gymnasts must be 16 in the year of the competition for Olympic eligibility, according to rules set by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG).

"Yang Yilin was born on August 26, 1992," Huang Jiansi, an official at the Gymnastics Sports Management Centre, an arm of China's General Administration of Sport, told AFP when asked about the CCTV posting.

"The report is not accurate."

He added that the authorities had updated athletes' information according to the latest resident registration records at the public security ministry and scrutinised age checks to make sure they were eligible for the Games.

The New York Times reported last month that another two members of the nation's Olympic women's gymnastics team, He Kexin and Jiang Yuyuan, were possibly only 14.

China issued similar denials to those accusations.

When asked whether he was concerned China may have given the wrong age of some of its athletes, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said on Saturday it was the FIG's job to verify athletes' eligibility.

"The International Olympic Committee relies on the international federations who are exclusively responsible for the eligibility of an athlete," he said.

"It is not the task of the IOC to go and check every one of the 10,500 athletes in this respect."

Date created : 2008-08-04