Olympic Chinese Gymnast Ruled Underage, Stripped of Medal by IOC

By Benjamin Chasteen, Epoch Times
April 28, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015
Fangxiao Dong of China performs her balance beam routine during the womens teams final at the 1999 Tianjin World Gymnastics Championships, Tianjin, China. China finished third. (Jack Atley/ALLSPORT)
Fangxiao Dong of China performs her balance beam routine during the womens teams final at the 1999 Tianjin World Gymnastics Championships, Tianjin, China. China finished third. (Jack Atley/ALLSPORT)

On Tuesday, Chinese gymnast Dong Fangxiao who won a bronze medal in the women’s team event in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, has been officially disqualified by the the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The IOC acted on an ongoing investigation by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) that was started during the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney.

Rules for competing require athletes to be at least of 16 years of age during the year of the actual Olympics. Ms. Dong was only 14 years old at the time of the Olympics and as a result she will be stripped of her medal and all awards given.

“As a consequence, the U.S. women’s team will be awarded the bronze medal for the women’s team event,” said the official Olympic website.

In addition to her bronze medal she has been also deemed disqualified in all events she participated in which includes the women’s individual floor exercises, the women’s individual vault, the women’s individual uneven bars, the women’s individual all-around, and the women’s individual balance beam.

When Ms. Dong registered to compete in the Sydney Olympics, her birth date was listed as Jan. 20, 1983. When she applied for accreditation to work as an official at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, she listed her birthday as Jan. 20, 1986.

Other evidence considered by FIG included the fact that on her personal blog she said she was born in the Chinese Year of the Ox, which corresponds to the year from Feb. 20, 1985 to Feb. 8, 1986.

Beijing Games Age Scandal

The FIG investigation was triggered by more recent suspicions that Chinese gymnasts at the 2008 Beijing Games were also underage. The row attracted international attention from both media and sporting bodies, who have called for more scrutiny to be applied to age verification.

The two girls in question in 2008 were Ms. He Kexin and Ms. Yang Yilin. Ms. Kexin won the gold in the uneven bars, while Ms. Yang won the bronze on the uneven bars and won another bronze for her overall individual competition. Both gymnasts were also part of China’s women’s team gold medal.

Multiple sources found Chinese webites that indicated that Ms. Kexin and her teammate, Ms. Yilin were 14 years old at the Beijing Games.

The Epoch Times found at least nine articles published on state-run Chinese sites that listed a birth date for He Kexin—making her 14, not 16 as Chinese authorities claimed. Soon after the scandal erupted most of the incriminating data disappeared from the Internet. Some evidence was retrieved in cache versions of the sites.

If the documents are accurate, then China’s communist regime issued passports to the girls with fake birth dates to allow them to compete. Given the information listed above, Ms. Dong Fangxiao may not be the last Chinese gymnast to be disqualified from the Olympic games.

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