IOC Letting China Off the Hook: The Death of Olympic Gymnastics

Jeffrey MannCorrespondent IAugust 22, 2008

Coming into these Olympic Games, everyone knew there would be controversial issues to deal with.

The International Olympic Committee was assured by China, the host nation, that it would clean up its act in regard to pollution and media censorship. While China has made great strides to clean up the air in Beijing, the rigid censorship remains in place.

It is enough of an issue that the IOC continues to ignore this. The last thing they need to do is ignore credible evidence that three of the Chinese gymnasts were under the age minimum of 16. The IOC continues to argue that all the verification they need is an athletes' passport, which is extremely easy to falsify.

After the Sydney Olympics, where passports were also used as verification, Chinese gymnast Yang Yun won and kept two bronze medals, despite the fact that she later admitted on Chinese Central Television that she was 14 at the time.

Many would argue that it doesn't matter if they were of age or not. They still out-competed the other teams and athletes.

With that in mind, any 13 or 14-year-old girl would be much more flexible and less developed than a 16-year-old. This gives them the advantage of being lighter on their feet and the ability to more easily complete some of the more complex moves in gymnastics.

There also is less of an understanding of the pressure of the situation at a younger age with less fear of failure.

I guess the real point is, if there wasn't an advantage, why would China try to sneak in under-age athletes?

If the IOC wants gymnastics to retain any shred of credibility they need to strip the Chinese teams of their medals. It is bad enough that the Chinese have won 23 gold medals in judged sports. They absolutely cannot let scores from an underage athlete stand.

I understand how much it behooves them financially to let this slide and ignore everything else that China has done questionably during these Olympics, but the Olympics are not supposed to be about profit.

The Olympics are supposed to represent the purity of sport, even for a controversially subjective sport like gymnastics. Without that purity, how are we ever supposed to take gymnastics seriously again?


8/24 1:55 am...Chinese Officials are saying that the discrepancies were due to "incorrect paperwork." Mysteriously, He Kexin and the other potentially under-aged gymnasts were not in attendance at a concert held for the Chinese Olympic gold medalists. Most likely they are being sequestered away from both the foreign media and IOC investigators.