The IOC has officially admitted a concern about the ages of the Chinese Women's Olympic Gold Medalists' Jiang Yuyuan and He Kexin.
The age requirement for participation in the Oympics is that the competitor be, or turn 16 years of age during that particular year.
Previous to the games, when the discrepancy in the age of He Kexin was first made note of, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stated that they would not pursue the matter, but the International Federation of Gymnastics (IFG) would be allowed to investigate.
Apparently that did not turn up much but the public became aware of the discrepancy. Kexin's DOB as listed on his Chinese passport, issued in February of 2008, is Jan. 1, 1992, the youngest age for a competitor. However, there are reports that her National ID card, also issued by the Chinese Government, previous to 2008, has an encoded birthday in the ID number issued to him, listed as 1/1/94, 2 years too young for the games.
The gymnastics training system in China is completely different than that of the United States, the children are selected around the age of three and raised as a part of the system, trained as gymnasts. Also, a reported speech at the 6th Chinese City Games has identified the same He Kexin as a 13 year old phenomenon, this competition happening in 2007.
The Chinese have responded by removing a website that the reporters found earlier listing Kexin's age at 14, too young for these Olympics and held the Government issued passport out as proof of her birthday. They have not provided any other proof of her birthday.
Can we really trust that the Chinese have no other means of proving a birthday, such as a birth certificate, that would prove that He was the correct age, thus ending this swirling controversy? But they can, the National ID card system has a unique code system that incorporates the individual's birth date into the line of numbers.
Reporters have stated that they have unearthed He's ID number and found that this lists her birthday as 1/1/94.
So why are they not coming forward with their "copy" or record of his ID number or card that they can clarify his actual birthday? Is it all one big conspiracy to steal medals from the rest of the world because they realized that most of their "of age" gymnasts were inferior to the younger ones?
I say that the IOC begins a full scale investigation into the background of all of the athletes that could be under age and, if they unearth proof that the Gymnasts were indeed underage, they should strip the gymnasts of their medals and pass them on to those that placed just below them.
If the United States were suspected of sneaking underage athletes into the Games the investigation would ensue immediately to find the answer, let's, as fans of equality in competition do the same to any country suspected of this and determine who is right and who is at fault, whether or not they are the host country.
If they are really too young, it would not be the first time since the age rule restriction changed in 1997. In the 2000 Sydney Games, Yang Yun of China admitted after taking the bronze in team and individual gymnastics that she had been 14 at the time of competition, which was confirmed by a Province sports administration.
Are we going to let the same country get off with less than a slap on the wrist for their second offense? What kind of message would that send to the world about the IOC? Other countries would begin to get the sense of weakness from the competitions "governing body" and begin to sneak their better younger athletes into the competition to gain a competitive edge.
Unfortunately, there is no simple remedy to this problem like there was for the doping scandal because the governments can create new "papers" and passports for their citizens that no one will be able to see through because they will be perfect.
The IOC must send a strong message with their findings in this conspiracy in order to deter any future attempts.