Aug 21

Has He Kexin’s age been changed to older or younger?

Written by Nimrod on Thursday, August 21st, 2008 at 6:24 am
Filed under:Analysis, culture, News | Tags:, , , ,
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Even though Buxi isn’t back, why don’t we return to a fine tradition of this blog? This post from Niubo (牛博), a Chinese forum often filled with discontent with how things are, has something interesting to add about the age of Olympic gymnast He Kexin. Translation below:

On the question of the Chinese gymnast He Kexin’s age, one fact is certain, that is, there is an inconsistency between the local athletic bureau and the central athletic bureau. So, is it that:

1. The local athletic bureau is correct, and the central athletic bureau changed her age to older?


2. The local athletic bureau falsified, and changed her age to younger?

In the eyes of foreign dudes (waiguo lao), so long as the gathered information, when put on a timeline, gives her age as 13 years old (presently 14 years old) first, then possibility 2 has the highest possibility. It shows that in its quest for gold, China will stoop to cheating. If this storyline is pushed forward some more, it can represent that China’s nationalism is grafted in such and such a way onto its totalitarian system, which will be terrifying like so, similar to 1936, etc….

An excellent storyline. But, from my experience in this country, it’s not like this. A greater possibility is, the local athletic bureau changed her age to younger, so she could participate in the Inter-City Competition. In truth, nearly all age-related alterations have happened in competitions internal to China. The goal is for the local sports officials, various levels of athletic schools, and parents to conspire and “rationally” exploit regulations to win more resources, honor, and — the biggest motivator of all — political achievements for the local sports officials and connected entities in the bureaucratic resource allocation game of the sports system.

In the Chinese bureacracy, this game has quietly gone on for years… the widespread extent of which, if one were to inquire, would be startling. It’s just that this time, this game has been exposed on the net and in the media, and has been found out… As can be seen below, He Kexin was a traded athlete in the Inter-City Competition, so the interests involved here are huge. If some mischief transpired, I wouldn’t be surprised…

The reason I hold a different view from the foreigners is because I’ve long believed China’s current system is one that appears totalitarian on the face, but is driven by special interests in reality. It isn’t a high speed totalitarian machine driven by ideological fervor toward a singular goal. In the former, the decisive factor of how things run is more the selfish desires behind the grand formality and the greed behind ambition. When the foreigners see China sparing no efforts for the Olympics, they immediately think China is up to something, and out comes the China threat theory. In reality, the greater possibility is in this big party, there are too many people who want a cut of the profits, so they spare no efforts all for enriching a small minority, nothing more than that.

Therefore, the possibility of a local official changing an age to younger for political gain, is far far greater than the possibility of changing an age to older at the central level, hoho.

Then the author provides two appendices. The first appendix is a newspaper article on the Inter-City Competition, with a paragraph that states an age-limit band of 13 to 15 years for gymnastics. The article also notes that the Inter-City Competition is mostly a proving ground for the 2012 Olympics.

The second appendix is a partial list of traded athletes between various local athletic bureaus. He Kexin is listed as being on loan for 2 years by the Beijing Bureau to the Wuhan Bureau. Birthday is listed as 1994 in this list, and seems to be essentially the same database that “the foreigners” found online. He Kexin would be useless to the Wuhan Bureau for the 2007 Inter-City Competition, if her real birthday was in 1992, making her over 15.

In fact, in the comments to a prior post, I’ve raised the point that Chinese parents change birthdays of children quite often for a variety of reasons or advantages, to older or younger, hence the possibility that things could go either way with He Kexin. He really could be 16, yet still nobody would want to come out and explain the age changing in local competitions — that’s just another can of worms. Anyway, this certainly isn’t proof of anything nor is it great news. The point is simply that, before jumping to conclusions on something having to with China, it is worth considering the other possilities, and at the least, consider that other possibilities do exist.

Finally, I hope this kind of fudging the formality culture is lost in China. It really is bad for the development of the rule of law.

Update from Admin: I have moved comments from the Chinese gymnasts age controversy post by Charles Liu to this thread.

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231 Responses to “Has He Kexin’s age been changed to older or younger?”

  1. Spelunker Says:

    I have not seen reports of birth certificates being produced for the underage gymnasts, only passports.

    Here is the historical precedent for China cheating with the ages of female gymnasts. This is copied from the recent TIME magazine article:

    “Age-fixing in Chinese sport has been in the news before. In sports where limber, prepubescent bodies can outmaneuver more mature athletes, kids can be designated as older than they are. Yang Yun, a Chinese gymnast who was listed as 16 when she won double bronzes at Sydney, later went on Chinese television and said she had been 14 when she competed.”

    See my comment at Danwei.org for links to Gooigle revealing changes made at China Daily online this year in an attempt to change He Kexin’s age from 14 to 16.


    Bonus link: Here you can see the Xinhua report from last year stating that He Kexin was 13 in 2007:


  2. Daniel Says:

    They do look young, but then it is hard without more proof. I was reading the comments regarding this in SI website and it seems that it’s 50/50. Half are convinced that China is “cheating” and a few have turn this to mention other “dishonorable acts” of China. Pretty much, they think this Olympics and anything involved with China is not good. Literally. The other half are skeptical regarding the controversy, with some do not care and blame others for using this as an excuse for not doing well in the sport. Some put the blame on the officials and system rather than athletes.

    I’m in between. I say go ahead and investigate the matter throughly but be realistic and not go overboard with saying so and so cheats and stuff. I too am certained that a percentage of athletes in every sport have “cheated” and people have turned a blind eye.

    They did pretty good from what I saw, but so far, is it just one athelet they are suspecting?

  3. Charles Liu Says:

    Spelunker, mentioning of birth certificate and International Gymnastic Federation’s investigation (and subsquent exhonoration) can be found in the links I provided.

    But I agree with you the Chinese government needs to make it clear where the misunderstanding is, correct the records instead of let it linger. And if one or more athlete is really underage, they need to give the medal back.

  4. Tina Says:

    I found an article and they showed that He is underage. I really wouldn’t trust the Chinese Gov’t as far as issuing passport showing they are 16 years old. They have done it in the past and I wouldn’t be surprised if these girls are under 16.

    In most sports I would be impressed that a younger athlete prevailed, however in gymnastics the extra weight in the hips and breasts that are a naturally occurring phenomenon in a post pubescent female make the execution of many of the tricks much more difficult.

    The “16 year old” rules were put into place for this very reason, and although it sounds like sour grapes from the American and Russian teams, I wonder whatever happened to the Chinese tradition of saving face?

  5. Tina Says:


    I forgot to post a link of the article I mentioned.

  6. DJ Says:

    Not to defend/excuse China in this matter, I want to point out that there is an interesting opinion piece that touched on this issue by Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    Here is how he ended it:

    The irony is that Martha and Bela Karolyi aren’t angry about China using underage gymnasts. They’re angry they can’t. Nadia Comaneci, remember, was just 14 when she dazzled the world in the 1976 Olympics – and put her coach, Bela Karolyi, on the map.

    “The only solution,” Martha said, “is to not have an age limit.”

    It would be easier to feel her pain if she hadn’t selected the 20-year-old Sacramone over the 15-year-old (16 in December) Ivana Hong or 16-year-old Corrie Lothrop.

  7. Charles Liu Says:

    Tina, “They have done it in the past”. Can you elaborate? My understanding the age rule didn’t exist before, then what would be the motivation?

  8. Chops Says:

    The latest news is not on the age allegation but on the US gymnasts winning Gold and Silver in the Women’s All-around.


  9. Henry Says:

    I think this, much more than the silly lip-synching controversy, really hurts China’s reputation. The evidence I’ve seen so far looks pretty damning: prior official documents listing different ages, an official Chinese article which reported a different age and was then changed, the fact that a Chinese Olympic gymnast admitted to lying about her age in the 2000 Olympics. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1832312,00.html?imw=Y

    Interestingly enough, one of my Chinese friends didn’t think that this was a big deal and was more upset about the lip-synching thing. Some cultural differences perhaps? Out of necessity, Chinese mainlanders have cultivated a habit of 走后门 (going through the backdoor). So perhaps there’s less respect for rules like this?

    My friend also mentioned that by age 16, a girl should start training for a real job. So there also appears to be differences in the athletic systems between the U.S. and China, and this age rule may be biased towards the U.S. Of course, that doesn’t make cheating OK, but it helps explain why some Chinese don’t think it’s necessary to respect the rule.

  10. Daniel Says:

    With so much negativity towards many issues broadcasted by news agencies and bloggers, I don’t think China’s reputation can be any more damage than it already is. Sort of like to mention that people will get to a point where they become immune, or insensitive due to the volume rather than particular stories.

    I talked to a few people (non-Chinese) in my area and somewhat “eaves” drop to hear others what they think. It seems that they don’t really care too much about it. For one thing, it seem very obvious, another was it’s hard to prove, and it didn’t do anything else to further their opinions regarding Chinese sports or these games. Of course, this is coming from a small sample of my community.

  11. Tina Says:

    @Charles Lui

    Cut and paste of an article from here:

    “China has a rich history of age falsification in Olympics competition, especially in gymnastics. At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, three years after the minimum age was raised to 16 in gymnastics, Chinese gymnast Yang Yun competed and won a bronze medal in the uneven bars (coincidentally this event is also He’s specialty). Yang’s passport said she was born on December 24, 1984 and turning 16 in the year of the Games, making her eligible. She later confessed in a television interview that she was only 14 at the time of the competition and that she and her coaches had lied about her age.”

    Another AP article:

  12. Spelunker Says:

    Absolutely no mention of “birth certificate” in the NY Times link provided by Charles. Those He Kexin links aren’t specific either. I don’t want to read about their stupid passports or any other documentation. The key word is “birth certificate” and produciton of that specific document should have been done long ago by Chinese authorities when this controversy began. Everybody with an ounce of common sense believes the government reissued He Kexin’s passport this year with a fake birthdate. He Kexin should be the target of investigations now. She is the one with the most condemning evidence and should be stripped of her gold medal.

    The international media in Beijing need to be much more aggressive with this issue. You have to rub the evidence in the Chinese government’s face and push the IOC representatives with both hands. All journalists should store the enormous amount of evidence gathered so far and storm the press conference room with laptops open and ready to show the truth. This is the press freedom that was promised when Beijing was awarded the Olympics, so now it’s time to start pressing!

  13. Spelunker Says:

    Absolutely no mention of “birth certificate” in the NY Times link provided by Charles. Those He Kexin links aren’t specific either. I don’t want to read about their stupid passports or any other documentation. The key word is “birth certificate” and production of that specific document should have been done long ago by Chinese authorities when this controversy began. Everybody with an ounce of common sense believes the government reissued He Kexin’s passport this year with a fake birthdate. He Kexin should be the target of investigations now. She is the one with the most condemning evidence and should be stripped of her gold medal.

    The international media in Beijing need to be much more aggressive with this issue. You have to rub the evidence in the Chinese government’s face and push the IOC representatives with both hands. All journalists should store the enormous amount of evidence gathered so far and storm the press conference room with laptops open and ready to show the truth. This is the press freedom that was promised when Beijing was awarded the Olympics, so now it’s time to start pressing!

  14. Maire Greaney Says:

    As a gymnastics coach, I had always thought that rule was introduced as a child welfare measure. The hours gymnasts put into their training are such that if they reach elite international level, they are training between 6 and 10 hours a day at least 5 days a week. This obviously has an effect on their education etc.

    Gymnasts between the ages of 11 and 14 years go through a very steep learning curve and learn very quickly. Puberty is delayed by a few years due to low body fat so when it does kick in between say 14 and 17 yrs, maintaining skills learnt before that age becomes a huge challenge. The body begins changing in a different way, the girls are not just “getting bigger” their body shape alters, the centre of gravity changes with the hips becoming bigger which effects beam work. All very technical, but it explains the difference between younger and more mature gymnasts.

    In short, the issue of age fixing is about the welfare of very young girls being used with no benefit to themselves. This does the sport a great disservice and undermines the work of many gymnasts, coaches and parents.

  15. FOARP Says:

    I’m not sure that I understand the controversy here. Team GB has a 14 year old boy in the diving team, the majority of people here are supportive – I don’t see the issue.

  16. Nimrod Says:

    Before making accusations of age-fixing and speculating on motivations, let me point out that not a few people I know have had their birthday changed to an earlier date (i.e. older) so they could start schooling earlier. That seems to be important to many pushy parents. Then the same pushy parents may get their child’s birthday changed to a later date (i.e. younger) so they can be held up as a child prodigy in the public spotlight. It can really go either way. Sometimes it’s not about cheating… but being an overachiever.

    On top of that the supposed “evidence” online is no evidence at all. Those online “evidence” aren’t even based on any identity checking. At least the IOC demanded some documentation, fake or not. Who are you going to trust more?

  17. S.K. Cheung Says:

    The lower age limit rule in gymnastics seems silly. There’s no lower age limit in any other sport I’m aware of. Usually, if you’re good enough to bring it, then good on you. I think Phelps was 15 when he first achieved a world record in butterfly. As with any age limit, it’s arbitrary anyway. And who is the gymnastics governing body kidding; if they’re trying to protect kids with immature bodies, an age limit won’t do it, since those very same kids will have been training non-stop for years leading up to their competition eligibility anyhow.

    Having said that, if the rule is there, then it should be adhered to. There was a report in the Globe and Mail quoting a reporter who had a cached webpage from December 2007 where the Chinese gymnasts including He were profiled. At that time, He was reported to be 13. For what that’s worth. As with many things China, we’ll never know. Regardless, He is very good. I wonder, at London 2012, if she’ll be 18 or 20 🙂

  18. Joel Says:

    The point is fair play, not how old athletes should or shouldn’t be. The American coach actually wants them do completely do away with age limits.

    Besides, isn’t it too late to go web searching for this stuff? I mean, I read reports last week claiming how they had to save cached pages of certain Mainland press reports that indicated the girls were thirteen, but that now many of them have been removed or edited.

    It’s too bad for the athletes and the sport. But it is nice to see reporters doing their jobs and making themselves useful, even if they do need to be a little rude.

  19. Eric Havaby Says:

    “I have not seen reports of birth certificates being produced for the underage gymnasts”

    The Chinese athletes can’t provide birth certificates because there is no such thing in China. There is the Hukou or family record, but that is issued by the local government / police, as are passports. They will put any date of birth their bosses tell them to put.

    Look at her! She is no way 17.


    The 16 plus rule was introduced because people died. This is child abuse.

  20. FOARP Says:

    @Havaby – That is a ridiculous thing to say – if this is child abuse then all teams are guilty of it, as all teams have included athletes under 16. The reason these restrictions were put in place for gymnastics was to give older girls a chance.

  21. MutantJedi Says:

    Slightly off topic but close enough…
    Athlete without Compelling Personal Drama Expelled from Olympics
    Tip of the hat to The China Beat

  22. Ben Wiebracht Says:

    I’ve lived in Asia for 18 years — sorry, not even Chinese girls look that young at 16. I’d like to give China the benefit of the doubt, but like Bela said, you kind of have to play the idiot to maintain that these girls are 16. Read the Times article, the Huffington Post article, and the NYT piece. MSNBC also had an article on the controversy, I think. Numerous Chinese sources — official sources like athletic registration documents — had the ages of Hiang and He at 14. Ask yourselves, why would these multiple, unrelated documents all have the wrong information? Then add to that their obviously prepubescent body types, the assessment of professional gymnasts, and China’s history of fielding underage gymnasts in the past (Sydney 2000), and it’s not sour grapes to call those girls underage. It’s common sense.

    But in spite of it all, Nastia and Shawn took gold and silver with totally clean consciences. They worked their butts off, played by the rules, overcame some suspicious judging, and did America proud. Watching those two on floor in the all-around has been the highlight of the Olympics for me. Athletes like those two give me some hope that the sport will survive — though clearly maimed by — China’s abuse of the age limit.

  23. Charles Liu Says:

    Splunker & Eric, please check the baidu links. Chinese certainly do have birth certificate (出生证).

    Here’re couple more links from Baidu:

    1) He was questioned during a press conference, a Western reporter tried to trick her by asking her birthyear sign (she said monkey):


    He’s coach gave an interview after He fell during preliminary, stating he found her in 1997 when she was 5:


    Other Tianya netters who have gone thru the atheletic selection process also stated it’s done no sooner than 3 year kindergarden. For He to be 14 she had to be choosen at age 3 as a toddler.

  24. FOARP Says:

    @Charles Liu – Tell you what, why don’t you see if you can’t connect Bella Carolli to the NED for us – it’s all connected I tell you !!!!?!

  25. Charles Liu Says:

    Focrap, I’m sorry I seem to have pushed your button again.

    If you believe Bela is connected with the NED without providing any proof, I must insist you are mistaken and paranoid.

    I stand by the citations I provided above. I also stand by the citation I provided on NED’s funding of various Chinese dissident groups. If there are any mistakes please point them out.

  26. S.K. Cheung Says:

    For every 3 or 5 year old in China who is tapped as having potential, for every He, I wonder how many other little girls sacrifice their childhood for naught. Can a 5 year old truly say, I’m going to dedicate the next 10 years of my life to my Olympic dream, rather than saying I want to go play with Barbies?

  27. Spelunker Says:

    The Chinese government should be ashamed of themselves for cheating as the host country and the international press needs to exercise their promised press freedom in Beijing and start pressing the IOC about He Kexin at the next Olympic press conference. Go in there with evidence on your laptop and open it in front of the IOC’s eyes! Ask He Kexin to produce her national identity card instead of her Chinese zodiac animal. We need smarter reporters to pursue this matter so that He Kexin will be strippied of her gold medals before the closing ceremony.

    Here’s an article better than any other posted above. It presents the case of He Kexin as a Chinese government conspiracy and raises more relevant questions that need to be answered:


  28. FOARP Says:

    @Carles Liu – Dude, all I was doing was taking the mickey out of your usual commenting style, which, you’ve got to admit, does seem to consist of trying to discredit folk by linking them to the NED, however tenuously.

  29. JXie Says:

    Knowing that the Chinese Olympic team banned its best male backstroke swimmer Ouyang Kunpeng for life a couple of months before the Games, after he was tested positive internally, I tend to believe even if some of these girls are really underage, the highest level of the Chinese team weren’t knowingly cheating. It’s just too much in stake for China as a whole. But on the other hand, there are just too many incentives built in for individual athletes, and/or their coaches, families, local sports outfits to cheat — I wouldn’t bet my money one way or the other.

    However imperfect it is, let the process work itself out. IOC/FIG will likely launch an investigation if it has not done so yet. Just like Marion Jones having passed all IAAF/IOC-mandated tests, the process may prove to be useless. But what else can you do?

    Speaking of which, if I were Michael Phelps, I would have my urine/blood samples frozen for any future tests. To this date, there is still idle speculation on Lance Armstrong. It’s hard not to get suspicions, when you are too good.

  30. bb Says:


    While I can’t substantiate my claim, I have been under the impression that the IOC keeps all medal winners blood for a minimum 8 years, since the invention of enhancing substances happens, logically, at a faster pace than the detection methods for them.

    Can anyone comment on that? Has anyone heard about that before, or am I under a false belief?

  31. byte_me Says:

    Just a note of interest…
    Australia’s Melissa Wu (diving) is also born in 1992 (like Kexin) and weighs a similar 33 kg. Ditto for other atheletes such as Semenova Ksenia (RUS gymnastics – 1992, 35 kg) ; Chen Roulin (CHN Diving – 1992, 30 kg); Wang Xin (CHN Diving – 1992, gasp 28kg), Dragoi Gabriela (RUM Gymnastics 1992, 37 kg); Tsurumi Koko (JPN Gymnastics -1992, 34 kg), etc, etc.
    So really looks and age are no indication of age, unless of course we are using the American gymnasts as the yardstick!

  32. vadaga Says:

    Apparently someone found information listing He Kexin’s age as 14 in the cache of sport.gov.cn

    H/T slashdot.com:


  33. JXie Says:

    The same cached spreadsheet also shows He Kexin from Wuhai. The Olympic champion He Kexin was born, raised and trained in Beijing.


    1. There is another He Kexin; or
    2. The spreadsheet is full of errors?

  34. JXie Says:

    Forget what I just said… Obviously I know less than what I thought I did.

  35. Nimrod Says:


    And you are going to see that as proof of what? There are various reports of gymnast He Kexin (何可欣) on the internet that either list her ancestral location (籍贯) as Beijing, as being from Hubei, or even as being a Guizhou person. Who is right? Are we even talking about the same person?

  36. Spelunker Says:

    I see that as proof of lies by China’s government, otherwise why the need for an unedited Internet cache?
    He Kexin is a 14 year old gymnast from Wuhan. Anybody who disputes those 2 facts is a Fool’s Mountain fool.

  37. Wahaha Says:


    Are you OK or you are a Falun gonger ?

  38. DJ Says:


    Please note that “Fool’s Mountain fool” is not necessarily perceived by our readers as a derogatory term, as you might have intended.

  39. Wukailong Says:

    @Wahaha: SOME Falungongers are OK. (This is kind of an internal joke among my friends, but it fits here)

  40. S.K. Cheung Says:

    So the Chinese government may have taken liberties with the rules of fair play, in hopes of adding to medal totals in the name of national glory. Is that really all that surprising or hard to fathom? The only ones who know He’s age for sure are her parents, and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts they ain’t talking. At the same time, she is one competitor among thousands; haven’t we spent enough time on her? She’s good, however old she is, but she’s not record breaking. She’s no Phelps or Bolt…boy I hope their pee is clean. Or at least focus on something ground-breaking, like CHinese athletes medalling in sports where they never have before, like beach volleyball or something.

  41. KL Says:

    The presumption of innocence never applies to China. Don’t bother. People see what they want to see, that’s the story behind the whole thing with He Kexin.

  42. werew Says:

    Also, she is born in January 1st, the universal birth date for uncreative forgery.

  43. daooufengzi Says:

    I’ve been wondering why exactly there is a 16 year age limit in the first place, it would seem to me there would be certain advantages to seeing this rule strictly implemented for the US, which does not seem to have as effective (draconian) a recruiting and training system for gymnastic talent at very young ages that China has.

  44. Wu Di Says:

    See here for a rather convincing proof that HKX is 14 and not 16: http://strydehax.blogspot.com/2008/08/hack-olympics.html

    Of course this is no definite proof but sometimes the measures taken to conceal something can speak more than 1000 words.

    And no, this is not an anti-China post, only an anti-Chinese-state-sponsored-censorship post…

  45. Kai Says:

    @ KL:

    You’re persisting to focus on the wrong thing when this whole matter when Niubo and Nimrod are actually positively contributing to the resolution of this issue. The main point here is that He Kexin’s age has indeed been changed but we’re just not sure by who and for what. If the central government and the China Olympic team is to be deemed innocent, then the implication is that the local officials fudged her age for their own local purposes elsewhere. SOMEONE did SOMETHING wrong no matter how you look at it but those criticizing and blaming still ought to be sure they’re criticizing and blaming the right culprits. If the Chinese central government is indeed innocent, they could try to clear their own name by owning up that the local government fudged and that the central government will try to clean up the local governments. Some critics might accept it and be impressed that the central government is mature enough to admit the faults in their own house. Of course, other critics will just rejoice that they’ve managed to show how corrupt China is, without regard to differentiating between who is who and what is what.

    I agree entirely with Nimrod’s final statement: the persistence or tolerance of fudging formalities is bad for the development of rule of law in China. This is the key takeaway and, if I may add, this is where the central government (in its efforts to actually improve China) needs to make sure the local governments need to clean up their act. Of course, this is understandably hard for such a large country, but allowing the local governments to get away with corruption inevitably and eventually harms the central government. We’ve seen this with the earthquake and with the recent mass riots. The people need to have faith in real changes that affect them, not lofty idealistic proclamations from above that don’t actually result in any improvements.

  46. Charles Liu Says:

    Nimrod, the netters might be on to something.

    I too noticed it while searching the sport.gov.cn domain for clues. In the registries where He Kexin has 1994 birth year all have Hubei as her home province. The ones with correct home province (Beijing) all have 1992 birth year:

    – Search the following combinations of keywords “何可欣 湖北 1994”, “何可欣 北京 1992” and observe the pattern.

    – Exchange the years and search again. You’ll notice an interesting phenomenon – all the Peacehall/Boxun articles accusing the Chinese government are citing the Hubei/Wuhan stuff as evidence that she is 14.

  47. nige Says:

    To try and clarify her age, how about going to the school that she goes to and find out what class and grade she is in. Maybe you can forge a certificate but maybe not the class she and school she attends

  48. Cris Says:

    My problem when you consider this theory: He Kexin (and many of her teammates) do not have the muscle or shape development one would expect of a sixteen year old athlete. She does have exactly the level of development I would expect of a 13-14 year old girl. One can safely assume that the athletes from each country practice an equivalent number of hours each week (which is to say a lot). Girls tend not to develop noticible muscle definition until mid to late puberty. While it’s true that people with Asian heritege are less likely to develop bulky musculature they nonetheless develop perfectly visible muscle definition. For the number of hours that we can assume the Chinese gymnasts work out, many of then, He Kexin in particular, do not have the definition one would expect of a sixteen year old. Combine with the fact that she has been in far fewer comptetions than her international counterparts, and I’m more inclined to believe the local governments report of her age, rather than the central government. Not that I can’t understand the motivation. China certainly wants a good showing on their home turf, especially in sports they are well known for, but if any of their team members are underage it’s unfair to the other countries, who may have had to choose lesser athletes because of the age limit and the IOC is not doing their job if they aren’t researching this more carefully and indeppendently, because you can not reasonably expect a country accused of cheating to be forthcoming with evidence that would disqualify them.

  49. Hemulen Says:


    The presumption of innocence never applies to China.

    This is not a criminal case. If you want to participate in a sport with age requirements, the burden of proof is on you to show that you have the right age. If doubts persist it is incumbent on you to clear away all ambiguities. A simple statement will not do, better to submit a birth certificate or something comparable.

  50. JXie Says:

    My problem when you consider this theory: He Kexin (and many of her teammates) do not have the muscle or shape development one would expect of a sixteen year old athlete.

    Allow me to give you one of my suspicions.

    If you look at Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis, what’s the difference between their builds? Johnson has a much thicker and wider upper body. Sprinters don’t train their upper bodies — they only add drag. It seems that a large upper body on a sprinter is a telltale sign of doping.

    Now look at some of the American track gold medal winners in 2004: Justine Gatlin (100, 4×100), Shawn Crawford (200, 4×100), Otis Harris (4×400). They all are too big — look more like LBs than sprinters such as Asafa Powell and Jeremy Wariner. Well actually Gatlin was caught doping in 2006 and banned for the Olympic Game.s But his 2004 gold was not taken away because there is no convincing evidence that he doped in 2004. (kind of defying logic if he didn’t, don’t you think?) Crawford who trained with Gatlin and had the same coach, is still running for the US this time.

    If you striped those 4 golds out from the US in 2004, China already overtook the US in total gold haul in 2004. But, this is not how it works — reasonable doubt alone isn’t enough.

  51. JXie Says:

    I wish I could edit it.
    (kind of defying logic if he didn’t, don’t you think?)

  52. admin Says:

    @Jxie, corrected. You will be able to edit your comments if you register as an author. 😉

  53. bert Says:

    Find He Kexin’s mother, promise her safety, fly her out of the country and then ask when she gave birth.

  54. Jeff Id Says:

    I feel bad for the girl, she didn’t have a choice. To state that its more likely that her age was lowered, completely ignores the obviousness of her appearance. Chinese look young but not that young. To pretend otherwise is not reasonable.

  55. Gan Lu Says:

    You couldn’t pay me to care which country has won the most gold medals: I never cared when China won only a handful, and I’m not going to start caring now that we’ve won 50. In the end, the Chinese people are as disinclined to participate in sports as they ever were. These athletes of ours who win medals are little more than science experiments – proof that a Chinese child, when given sufficient training, proper coaching, and a good diet, can become a great athlete. Big deal. Not much to celebrate, if you ask me. India, a nation of one billion people, has won only one medal (a gold in shooting). What conclusions are we to draw from that? That India is a nation of losers?

    As for the He Kexin fiasco – I ate lunch with three friends from 中国体育总局 two days ago, and all of them believe that she is underage. What’s more, they say that the subject of He Kexin’s age is much discussed at 中体 and that most everyone appears to agree that 1) she is underage, and 2) the authorities responsible are lying through their teeth. That’s not to say that my friends and their colleagues hope (or expect) that He Kexin will be stripped of her medal and the Chinese team banned from future competitions, but no one trusts that anyone in a position to know the truth is actually telling the truth. The fact that the International Gymnastics Federation accepts Chinese passports as the final word is indefensible considering the aggressiveness with which the IOC pursues and sanctions other forms of cheating. Indeed, the IOC revoked a bronze medal from a wrestler just the other day after the wrestler, disappointed at having won only a bronze, threw his medal to the ground in disgust. You’d think that they would pay more attention to the growing body of evidence suggesting that He is only fourteen. A testament to China’s “soft power” perhaps? Still shameful.

    I have seen all the evidence and listened to my friends, and I think that He Kexin is probably underage. Where there is smoke, there is fire. And in this case, there is a cloud of thick black smoke rising high into the grey Beijing sky.

    By the way, I’m an average sized Chinese adult. When I was ten years old, I was only 140 cm and 35 kg. Taller and heavier than He Kexin. 十六岁个屁。

    It’s a shame China feels the need to cheat. When a U.S. athlete is caught using drugs, U.S. government officials don’t lie to cover it up. Our government has traded its integrity for gold medals. There is nothing more to say.

  56. Nimrod Says:

    To all the people going by her looks, I think there is enough other places to draw your mistrust from than that. First of all, she is more or less among the top of the world, and almost by definition, those people are freaks of nature. If you grabbed a 7-year-old Yao Ming off the street, you think you’d be able to tell he was really 7 or 9? So what if she looks young, maybe she is, maybe she isn’t.

    Now the comments from 体育总局 are more interesting, but for an anonymous online comment quoting an anonymous private conversation, I’d at least expect something more juicy like they know she is underage, not that they believe she is underage, since the latter is hardly different than your Joe Shmoe netter. What a waste for the 体育总局 credentials! lol…

    All that aside, there are two more things to note:

    1. Perhaps to the chagrin of all, the IOC likely won’t do anything because unlike doping, there is no scientific way to figure this one out without the NOC spilling the beans. The government issued a passport and the IOC accepted passports. This has now become an issue of how NOC’s authenticate their athletes, which may be subject to future review and probably should be, but for this Olympics, what can the IOC do? There isn’t the equivalent of piss samples that is in the possession of the IOC.

    2. He Kexin is amazing. I just watched a video of her on the uneven bars, and man, that “Li Ya salto” (李娅空翻) at 0:37 should leave anybody speechless, even the retired Li Ya herself!

  57. admin Says:

    @Gan Lu

    As byte_me (#31) pointed out, body weight itself does not tell the whole story. And your 体育总局 story would be more credible if you were not posting from the USA.

  58. Nimrod Says:

    Gan Lu is probably eating lunch telepathically thanks to the powers of Falun Gong.

  59. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Again, nice alternate theory about how the age discrepancy may have come about. However, as has been done on this site before, rather than rationalize it, why not just denounce it. As Kai #45 succinctly puts it, “SOMEONE did SOMETHING wrong no matter how you look at it “. That should be the starting point. Acknowledge the problem…then, at a later time, you can navel-gaze and speculate to your heart’s content as to the underlying cause, in hopes of preventing similar mistakes in the future. But even at that level, the “Chinese government” at some level (be it local or national) is fudging the numbers. So the solution is for the CHinese government at all levels to act honestly and tell the truth…good luck with that.

  60. B.T. Says:

    C’mon, is this story really ‘news’? The Chinese will lie, steal & bribe their way for top metal position and an artificial image of global superiority this Olympics.

    *Lip singing 9 yr olds
    *Computer Generated fire works
    *Not pollution – “Mist!”
    *56 Paraded children proudly representing their individual ethnicity’s when the truth is all 56 are ‘Cherry Picked’ Han Chinese
    The list goes on and will continue to even after the games.

    This country is nothing more than the insecure girl stuffing her bra with toilet paper before the prom dance.

  61. Wahaha Says:

    “C’mon, is this story really ‘news’? The Chinese will lie, steal & bribe their way for top metal position and an artificial image of global superiority this Olympics. ”

    Name a 100 meter runner that you believe who didnt use drug.

  62. Wahaha Says:

    (Edit: Comment removed. Please stay on topic.)

  63. Wahaha Says:

    BTW, westners enjoy those lying without thinking.

    Like Audience applauded when McCain claimed he knew how to capture Bin Laden, WTF ? do you really believe what he said ? I dont like Bush, but I dont doubt he has tried any possible way to bring Bin Laden to justice, What McCain can do but Bush couldnt ? It is so obvious a lie by McCain, and people applauded.

    (Edit: Please try to stay on topic.)

  64. Wahaha Says:

    and this :


    I guarantee those mayors promised a lot in election campaign. After 50 years, what has happened ?

  65. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    lip synching 9 year old – true
    CGI fireworks – true
    You can’t dispute those facts.
    All your “examples” are mere conjecture and innuendo. I think BT’s backside is on pretty solid ground, whether you like it or not.

  66. B.T. Says:

    “Name a 100 meter runner that you believe who didn’t use drug.”

    You’re right, touche! Everyone of those ‘human horses’ jabbed their ass with ‘Vitamin S’ before heading to the field.

    What do they really have to lose by being caught? I’d do it.

  67. Nimrod Says:

    Wow, some people seem to be stuck in the mindset of a perpetual struggle session. What is this? So what are these supposed to show? Lip synching singer, and …? CGI as part of a show, so …? (If you watched the CCTV broadcast it was pretty obvious that part was a cut-to-video, pretty much like the little interlude on papermaking that followed.) Big deal. Nobody is arguing about these facts.

    I just don’t see how you go from this to some “insecure girl stuffing bras” analogy. I don’t even see how these and other things are even part of one “list”, unless you’ve already made a list ahead of time and called it “China: insecure girl stuffing bras”, which some obviously have.

    Not surprisingly, I’ve been shown this list (figuratively speaking) even before the Olympics started. If you have a list you can fill it with anything.

  68. Spelunker Says:

    To Wahaha, Nimrod, and DJ:
    The IOC has just launched the investigation that I have been pressing every journalist in Beijng to press!
    Read this and weep!




  69. Wahaha Says:

    “You’re right, touche! Everyone of those ‘human horses’ jabbed their ass with ‘Vitamin S’ before heading to the field.”

    Two words, Carl Lewis.

  70. Wahaha Says:

    “All your ‘examples’ are mere conjecture and innuendo. I think BT’s backside is on pretty solid ground, whether you like it or not”

    My examples —- all true, unless you never step out disney land in your life.

  71. B.T. Says:

    “I just don’t see how you go from this to some “insecure girl stuffing bras” analogy.”

    That is just a silly analogy expressing the imagery of someone trying to create and portray an image of someone they aren’t through artificial means. If you can’t connect that analogy to the fakery of China during the Bejing games then I don’t know how better to put it.

    “China: insecure girl stuffing bras”, which some obviously have.”

    To the credit of the chinese girls, especially their olympic team, I firmly believe (no pun intended) that they DO NOT stuff thier bras. I’ve seen mosquito bites bigger than those bosoms! LOL!

  72. Nimrod Says:

    So please do tell me, BT, what did you learn about China from the Olympic Games? Polluted? Probably, though the extent of which I think the competing athletes can draw their own conclusions about. (Haven’t heard a peep from them actually, interesting, isn’t it — all from reporters, none from athletes?) Enough to warrant the masks worn by the laughable American cycling team? Certainly not.

    Anything else? What do lip synching or CGI fireworks show about evil evil China? Come on, out with it.

  73. B.T. Says:

    Nimrod, your completely sensationalizing the talking points of my original post while doing a superb job of living up to the full stature of your screen name. 😉

    Let’s face it, here we have a country that is basically buying their medal status in the Olympic games. If you find my statement unfounded then simply examine ‘Project 119″. This government has basically given their Olympic program a blank check in the pursuit of Olympic dominance, while the majority of their countryman are living in 3rd world mud huts scraping by one 1 meal a day.

    To answer your question that’s what I’ve learned about China during this Olympic games “Nimrod”.

  74. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Nimrod,
    actually, what I’ve learned from these Games is that Beijing is not all that polluted when it rains and when half the cars are removed and a bunch of factories are shut down. What I haven’t learned yet is how things will again look once the show leaves town.

  75. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    if your examples are all true to you, then I thank my lucky-Little Teacups that you’re not me, and vice versa.

  76. byte_me Says:

    Let’s start a topic on nice pert bosoms (Chinese) versus silicon injected melons (+ other parts of the body). lol… America: insecure girl stuffing bosoms! This cracks me up.

  77. B.T. Says:

    Alright I am making a formal apology to everyone. My analogy was intended to drive home a point, but apparently it has back fired and driven this topic to a juvenile level and for that – I am sorry. 🙂

    In respect to the intent of this topic allow me to restart the dialogue concerning He Kexin.

    If it is substantiated by the IOC that “He” is indeed 14, thus proving foul play occurred.

    What actions should be taken by the IOC relative to the scandal?

    I’m interested in your opinions.

  78. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Alex Despatie, Canadian 3m springboard diving silver medalist, carefully said that he “finished ahead” of the Chinese bronze medalist, rather than “beating him”. Meanwhile, both the Chinese gold and bronze-medalists voiced appreciation of Despatie’s efforts, and were happy to see he’s recovered from his foot injury. Elite athletes, showing sportsmanship, being gracious in victory and defeat. That’s what I like to see.

  79. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To BT:
    I dunno, that’s one big “if”. There’s no urine or blood test for age, nor is there video evidence akin to a foot stepping on a line or outside of a designated running lane.

  80. B.T. Says:

    S.K. You bring up a very good point and when these allegations first broke out about the Chinese girls a few weeks back, I too took your position.

    However, it’s not looking very good for ‘He”, in fact (unfortunately) I think the girls will lose their team medal and ‘He” will lose her individual medal once the probe is completed. Yikes! 🙁

    The only reason the IOC begun the probe is due to recent evidence that has surfaced. If you have a chance go to this link and you’ll see how serious this is looking for ‘He’ and the team.


    Poor ‘He”..

  81. Spelunker Says:

    Victory for Spelunker! You can’t handle the truth!



  82. Daniel Says:

    I think at the most, they will just have the girls hand over the medals. I can’t think of anything else. I don’t think they can “buy” every medal and some are well-earned. So, I leave whatever action they want against China in general to speculation.
    I have to agree with a few that having the age limit rule seems to gives older girls a chance rather than protecting them. After all, didn’t a lot of these athletes trained and particpated in some form of competitions younger than 16?

  83. Charles Liu Says:

    In addition to being a big “if”, it’s already proven that He is 16, to the satisfaction of the international governing body, International Gymnastics Federation. Here’s what FIG said:


    “Both Jiang Yuyuan and He Kexin have already taken part in last year’s or this year’s World Cup ompetitions, and even before entering those FIG competitions the FIG had already verified and approved of their age eligibility.”

    “IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said Saturday that the matter is closed as far as it is concerned.”

    As BT’s comment aptly shows, we don’t need to guess what action the media would take, if it is substantiated by the IOC He is 16, thus proving no foul play.

    Continued vilification.

  84. CLC Says:

    @SKC #72

    According to Kenneth Rahn, a retired URI professor, the pollution level in Beijing has more to do with weather patterns than local car/factory emissions. see http://karws.gso.uri.edu/APIppt_files/frame.html

  85. Chinawatcher Says:

    The Times of London is reporting that the IOC has ordered an investigation into the controversy over He Kexin’s age


    Yahoo Sports has another report here


    Let’s see what comes of it…

  86. B.T. Says:

    Charles hate to be the 1st to break it to ya, but the Giselle Davies quote your referencing is from a August 3rd article.

    The matter has not been closed. In fact the IOC and Giselle Davies has ordered an investigation into the matter today – hence the point of this blog.

    “The International Olympic Committee has ordered an investigation into mounting allegations that Chinese authorities covered up the true age of their gold-medal winning gymnastics star because she was too young to compete.”

    “Yet Giselle Davies, an IOC spokesperson, said tonight that because of troubling new developments, the committee had instructed the International Gymnastics Federation, the sport’s governing body, to investigate.” – AUG 21st


    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news Charles..

  87. CLC Says:

    We have 3 people jumped on the same story, but Spelunker again won the Gold medal. 😉

  88. B.T. Says:

    “We have 3 people jumped on the same story, but Spelunker again won the Gold medal.”


    Spelunker may have the gold for now, but are you suuuuuure Spelunker is really 16??

  89. Daniel Says:


    We have an age limit for commenting links?

  90. B.T. Says:


    We have an age limit for commenting links?”

    Classic! LOL! Daniel it’s a joke. Think about it.

    Why is there such an uproar about He’s Gold medal? Because the allegation is that the Chinese authorities along with ‘He’ has lied about her age.

    She says she 16, which is the required age to compete. If it is found she isn’t then she will lose that Gold.

    Connect the dots with my “Spelunker joke” .

  91. MoneyBall Says:

    I dont understand why this is so important, China may have bent the rule, not the first time wont be the last time. Americans like doping Chineses like to falsify their ages, both are open secret. It’s a show, when its over its over, I couldnt careless how old she really is or after 8 yrs they find something funy from Phelps’ pee.The reason the west is attacking this is not for sports integrity(otherwise everybody would have been screaming about “goldfever” by now, yeah they are not only doping themselves they start doping animals now), and they know it, they know we know it, we know they know we know it, there’s not point to argue things like this, let them run their mouths.

  92. Spelunker Says:

    Let’s see if my fans on Fool’s Mountain appreciate this musical tribute to He Kexin, with sincere apologies to Ringo Starr:

    “You’re Sixteen?”

    You do flips and you twirl, ooh, what a girl!
    Eyes that sparkle and shine.
    You’re fourteen, you’re beautiful and you’re mine.
    (mine, all mine, mine, mine!)

    You’re my baby, my Chinese doll,
    You beat USA without a single fall
    You won the gold, my heart went cold,
    Ooh, when we lost, I gave Rogge a call.

    Your Olympic dreams, are now on hold
    Soon the IOC will divine…
    You’re fourteen, you’re beautiful, pay the fine.

    You’re my baby, my Chinese doll
    your paper trail’s as long as China’s Great Wall
    For goodness sake, your passport’s fake,
    Ooh, what a mess, you’re about to make!

    The truth has come clean… Miss He Kexin;
    Your name can no longer be used online.
    You’re fourteen, you’re beautiful, and you’re mine!

  93. Daniel Says:

    I know it’s a joke.
    I was trying to be sarcastic but I guess it’s a little hard to do it online.

  94. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To MoneyBall:
    “China may have bent the rule, not the first time wont be the last time.” – truer words have not been said since Kai #45. But if this is not about sports integrity, self serving in this case as it may be, then what is it about? Is it the big bad Westerner trying to keep Chinese down, again?

  95. B.T. Says:

    “You’re fourteen, you’re beautiful, and you’re mine!”

    Alright, now that lyric is borderline pedophilia, well I guess not borderline, it is! Funny song though 🙂

    I will admit..(which most of the men on this blog won’t) I do find many of these Olympic Gymnasts very attractive, some of the older and more developed – legitimately sexy, but ‘He”? No way! Even if she is 16 it still feels like I’m looking at a preschooler!

    You have to admit she she does look like a toddler.

  96. S.K. Cheung Says:

    I enjoy watching government types of all stripes and colours squirm; this has the makings of a reasonably good show, courtesy some level of the Chinese government, as yet TBD.

  97. B.T. Says:

    Daniel. That was some convincing ‘sarcasm’. Are you sure you’re not saying that just to save face? It’s ok you can admit it, we’re all goobers here. 🙂

  98. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To CLC #84:
    his contention may well be true. But if that’s the case, why did CCP deem it necessary to take the steps they did?

  99. B.T. Says:

    Have you watched the track and field relays? The US relay teams….suck! Both Men and Women dropped the baton (literally!). Unheard of! They’re out of the finals…pathetic. Is that like an Omen?

    F.Y.I. I’m a CHN and USA fan.

  100. MoneyBall Says:

    @S.K. Cheung,

    Why’d I bother go all way up to read Kai’s post. Believe me China has 1 trillion problems that girl is 14 or 16 is the least important of them all. What rule of law, CCP doesnt even honor their own constitution, if Communism has a last name it would be Lawless.

    What is this about? 恨乌及屋. i.e I badmouth Korea every time people ask me because I hate their foods, everytime I go there I starve.

  101. CLC Says:


    You probably did not follow the link I provided. Essentially Beijing’s bad air is not just from Beijing’s cars and factories, but from pollutants generated from regions south of Beijing. The problem can not be solved by just shutting down factories/banning cars in Beijing alone, but shutting down all the factories in Northern China is not an option.

    According to Rahn, “When the winds shift to the north and bring in clear air from Mongolia, the air can be relatively clean… But when winds are from the south, where there is a large population and lots of industrial activity, the air can be particularly hazardous.”

  102. Wahaha Says:


    What a talented person you are !! ……………………………totally wasted.

  103. d Says:

    technically speaking, she’s 16 in chinese years! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Asian_age_reckoning

  104. Wahaha Says:

    This investigation will go nowhere,…. I am not saying “He” is 16.

    The conclusion will be “not enough evidence”.

    I bet $20 on that.

  105. Daniel Says:

    Don’t worry B.T.
    Even though I may have a rice-paper thin skin, I could care less about face, especially since we’re all sitting behind a computer screen. It’s a little easy commenting around this blog than a lot of other places, and usually if I repeat certain marks like ??? or !!! or even “quotation marks”, I’m sorting making a smirk. I thought it be obvious by now.

    However, the older I get the more I am getting use to this reality that people that people will believe whatever they want to believe. I discovered such precious truths at the ripe old age of 8 and held them so dear to my heart at my advance 20s. So, if you think I said that to save face then whatever it be so be it.

    Ok, I admit. That was too many words to use to reply back. Anyways, I need to be a bit honest in saying that that song is quite disturbing so I don’t know whether to laugh or say oh my!!!

  106. Daniel Says:

    Come to think of it, whatever the outcome of the investigation, I don’t know who will lose more face. I mean, there is a lot of noise regarding the cheating of the rules, but there’s been the same level of reactions saying their performance was better and many in between. If I can recalled some of the arguements, I think there were some coaches who were upset at how they didn’t get to use younger athletes rather rather than expressing the merits of such age rule. Nonetheless, rules are rules, but I agree that there’s probably tons and tons of more things to worry about than all the events of the Olympics combined.

    Reading back, I personally find some of the athletes in the track and field/athletics group attractive.

  107. B.T. Says:

    “I discovered such precious truths at the ripe old age of 8 and held them so dear to my heart at my advance 20s.”

    Whoa Daniel.. That was a profound reply..deep man…deep.

    I gotta disagree with you on the track and field athletes, yah there’s some lookers, but nothing compares to some of the gymnasts. HOT!

    We are talking about the female athletes right?

  108. Daniel Says:

    LOL. B.T.
    It’s probably really going to go waaaay offfff topic but I think you know which gender I goggle for but I’ll leave that to your imagination…

    I mean, there was one gymnast, maybe Russian, who I thought was nice to look at but several were very high-school-ish, as in early high school type of looks. To go back to the subject, the whole birth certificate and documentation of age is one thing, but there is some caution when judging from looks alone. I know one woman in her mid 20s and seen pictures of others who had very small figures and almost elementary child physiques in a way, but there’s usually something about their health or genetics. Not necessary an ethnic thing as I believe others are thinking.

  109. pug_ster Says:

    While He Kexin was the primary target of the age 14 controversy, other athletes are also questioned. Notice the weight and height. I do think it is most sour grapes from the Western Media because she won over Nastin Liukin on the uneven bars.

    He Kexin – 4’7″ 72 lbs

    Yang Yilin 4’11” 77lbs

    Jiang Yuyuan 4’7″ 70 lbs

    I’ll show 2 of the profiles of the recent 10m platform divers who weights less and about the same height, which is less than He Kexin.

    Chen Ruolin 4’5″ 66lbs

    Wang Xin 4’5″ 61lbs

    Notice the weight and the height of the Diving athletes is less than the gymnastics athletes. I’ve just saw the divers in the 10m final and they don’t look 16 either. I really think that the restricted diets of these Chinese athletes which severely limit their growth on height and weight. It sounds cruel, but that’s what gives them the edge in sports like gymnastics and diving.

  110. B.T. Says:

    I agree that judging age from looks is flawed and believe it’s baseless in actually filing a protest against any nation…However, when you have an athlete who’s obviously lost a baby tooth recently, it justifiably raises suspicions don’t ya think?

  111. Daniel Says:

    *Of course*

  112. Wahaha Says:

    Come on, people,

    Chinese government made stupid mistakes in this Olympic, if some people try to make big news out of it, go ahead. If some try to make a connection between fake age and “communism regime”, let them masturbate.

    Like the huge mistake in 18 years ago, it may give this government a good education how to deal large scale of riots,( I am not saying 6/4 is riot). I hope the chinese government will learn from this and know what is more important, integrity or face; AND THEY SHOULD CHANGE THE WAY THEY THINK, THAT IS THE KEY. The Tibet riots, the anti-cnn, the earthquake, the weng’an riot, now the stupid mistakes in Olympic will save China tons of troubles in the future.

    There were 11 spain athletes who failed drug test, we didnt see any media attention; but we see West media have bombarded on “He”‘s age, to me, it sounds like soup grape. but WE OURSELVES SHOULD NOT TAKE THIS AS DEFENDING CHINA.

    20 years ago, West reporters publicly humiliated Chinese IN BEIJING, people from Taiwan despised us, People in Hongkong didnt consider themselves Chinese, will anything now be worse than the humiliation we suffered 20 years ago ? If some people love living in the past, let them be, we look forward.

  113. DaMai Says:

    To be fair, the issue regarding gymnast’s ages came up before the Olympics even started when the first set of documentation was found. To call this sour grapes is just a cheap way of trying to squash the investigation; though I highly doubt anything conclusive will be found. If I had to make an educated guess, I’d say that He is definitely not 16, it’s definitely being covered up, but with national face at stake and only a handful of documents, the evidence is certainly not overwhelming.

    I do think another important thing to reinforce is, I don’t think people are unhappy with He. She’s an amazing athlete. I don’t even think she should be stripped of her medal, she outperformed Liukin in my opinion. But I do think the government’s alleged complicity in this needs to be uncovered, if it is indeed orchestrated, because that spits in the face of all the other countries.

  114. Wahaha Says:

    DaMai,______ To call this sour grapes is just a cheap way of trying to squash the investigation;

    I was not talking about gold medal, I was talking about the image presented to the world by this Olympic.

  115. DaMai Says:


    I was actually referring more to pug_ster’s “sour grapes” comment.

  116. Wahaha Says:


    Sorry, my bad. here is a link I like to post :


    When the Olympic Games kicked off in Beijing and the arguments commenced over how one should respond to such an event being held in an authoritarian, human rights-violating state, it was difficult to know where one’s sympathies would be best invested. …….

  117. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Pugster:
    but there is no age limit in diving, so the Chinese divers’ age/size/stature is not and should not be an issue. The only reason why He’s age is an issue is because of the rules, silly rules IMO, but rules nonetheless. Having said that, we all should have bigger fish to fry than to worry about the age of 1 athlete among thousands, as I’ve said before.
    This “restricted diet” is a little scary…are the authorities purposely depriving their athletes for the sake of national glory? I personally think that would be a much bigger deal than whether He is old enough to drive.

  118. Gan Lu Says:


    You’re an ass. I’m am not posting from the U.S. In fact, I’m posting from my apartment on the campus of People’s University in Beijing. Check my IP address if you have any doubts. It could be that I was using a proxy server when I posted my last comment, but I am certainly not now.

    Again, check my IP address and then edit your comment about me posting from the U.S. Otherwise, like the people who are covering up the fact that He Kexin is not yet 16, you have no integrity.

  119. Gan Lu Says:

    @ Nimrod

    No magical Falungong powers here. Check my IP address. I’m in Beijing. After verifying that I’m in Beijing, please edit your comment and admit that you were wrong.

    Are these the kinds of tactics that the people running BFC use to discredit people who disagree with them? Pathetic.

    In fact, just to make sure that I’m not deluding myself, I just checked my IP address at http://www.ip-adress.com. Happy to say that I am, in fact, where I say I am.

    How about this – I’ll walk outside later, take a photo of today’s newspaper at a nearby magazine stand outside of People’s University. You then post it here on BFC with an apology. OK?

  120. Yahoo! News Says:


    Despite persistent questions about the ages of several members of the Chinese women’s gymnastics team that won the gold medal, the International Olympic Committee said Friday there is still no proof anyone cheated and believes the controversy will be “put to rest.”

    The IOC asked the International Gymnastics Federation to investigate “what have been a number of questions and apparent discrepancies,” spokeswoman Giselle Davies said. But all of the information the Chinese gymnastics federation has presented so far supports its insistence that its athletes were old enough to compete.

    “We believe the matter will be put to rest and there’s no question … on the eligibility,” Davies said. “The information we have received seems satisfactory in terms of the correct documentation — including birth certificates.”

  121. Brody Says:

    What about the 3rd place finisher who would have got silver? What about the 4th place finisher who would have got bronze?

    This isn’t a US vs. China issue, it’s a Olympic-wide and worldwide issue. The FIG and IOC will sweep it under the rug and privately warn the Chinese in a backroom meeting. They will NEVER strip the Women’s Gymnastics All-Around winner unless a drug test is failed. It is THE PREMIER draw for the Olympics, and admitting they were wrong would be more embarrassing than denying it ever happened.

    The Chinese are cheaters, they know it, and they don’t care. All in the name of jingoistic ‘pride’.

  122. raffiaflower Says:

    From San Diego Union Tribune Aug 2004.

    The rest of the world, no doubt, will mark it down as another chapter in the annals of Ugly Americanism at the Olympics – openly accusing a Japanese swimmer of cheating when a U.S. swimmer doesn’t win, then going berserk when a U.S. gold medalist gets disqualified for an alleged rules violation.

    Aaron Peirsol was DSQ for an illegal dolphin flip. What a row on the spot! He was reinstated, on grounds that one of the line judges (or whatever they are called) had made a mistake because he did not understand English or French, one of the working languages of the IOC.
    That judge was named in the Guardian, and was from Singapore. And I always thot English was the first official language of the city-state.

  123. DaMai Says:

    Persistent questions about Chinese, but no proof

    As we suspected, the matter is closed on the issue of proof. It comes down to face, both for the IOC and for the Chinese gov. For both the IOC and the gov, it’s in their best interest to sweep this one under the rug.

    I admit there is no overwhelmingly conclusive evidence, and I suspected this would be the outcome, but there’s definitely enough evidence to suggest there’s something sneaky going on.

  124. Wu Di Says:

    When it comes to questions of integrity (I agree with Gan Lu), maybe it is more meaningful to discuss issues such as


  125. Kitty Says:

    @ B.T. #110

    You cannot prove someone’s age based on their looks and their baby teeth. I am 16 and I just lost one of my baby teeth recently, and I still have one left. I was 13 when I lost my first baby tooth. Also, I am only 4’8″ and weigh 75 lbs, and my friends and their parents tell me that I can pass for 12. You can go ahead and not believe me, but I am not about to post my picture online just to prove my point and prove you wrong.

  126. FOARP Says:

    It seems that the IOC is going to ask the Chinese Olympic committee to carry out another investigation:


    Look, I’m trying to keep an open mind on this, but the fact that such a cover-up was launched to hide all these references to her age seems pretty damning. I don’t expect that anything is going to come out of the Chinese investigation since they’re presumably the people responsible for the cover-up, but it does being a lot of other things into question – if we cannot trust them not to fiddle with something as basic as the age of a gymnast, then what about things like drugs testing?

  127. Gan Lu Says:


    Still working up the courage to admit that you were both wrong about me? (see my first comment, 55, and Admin’s and Nimrod’s response at 57 and 58) Have you managed to figure out that I really am in Beijing, and not in the U.S. as you lead everyone to believe? Care to apologize?

    U.S. athletes cheat. However, the U.S. government does not leverage its integrity to protect them when they are caught. Truly shameful.

  128. admin Says:

    @Gan Lu

    Sorry for the late reply. I am not online 24/7. Your latest posting IP is indeed from China. However, you comment #55 is from 208.x.x.32, which is a US IP. I can post/email your posting IP if you want.

    With that said, I’d take your words and believe you are indeed in China. As you said, it could be that you were using a proxy server. I apologize to you and also to Nimrod for misleading him.

  129. vadaga Says:

    Re: comment 100
    “China has 1 trillion problems that girl is 14 or 16 is the least important of them all.”

    This bears repeating.

  130. pug_ster Says:

    @117 S.K. Cheung

    The thing about the Chinese Divers technically eligible to be in the gymnastics team because they have to be age 16 in the Olympic year (means that they have to be born in 1992.)

    I agree with @110 kitty’s assessment. I have a friend a few years back who was 24, weighs 83 lbs and 4’9″. Anybody could mistaken her to be 16. And no she is not anorexic.

  131. FOARP Says:

    @pug_ster – The restriction applies only to gymnasts, that’s what makes all these accusations of ‘child abuse’ a bit nonsensical, Team GB has a diver who is 14 years old – and the majority of people here in the UK are supportive.

  132. FOARP Says:

    By the way – the Jamaicans are just incredible, did you see the men’s 400 metre relay? They beat the WR by 3/10ths of a second. Amazing.

  133. pug_ster Says:


    The 2 Chinese divers have no reason to hide their age (both are born in 1992) and they are even lighter and shorter than the Chinese gymnasts. The requirement for the gymnasts is that they have to be 16 this year and much of these athletes fit that descripton. As explained by Kitty, the whole thing about not losing your baby teeth by age 16 is not unusual.

  134. Kitty Says:

    It says here that birth certificates WERE submitted as proof of age for the Chinese gymnasts, as well as passports, ID cards, and family residence permits.

    “We believe the matter will be put to rest and there’s no question … on the eligibility,” Davies said. “The information we have received seems satisfactory in terms of the correct documentation—including birth certificates.”

    He said the governing body of gymnastics was given additional documents Thursday night to try to dispel lingering questions. Those documents included He’s current and former passport, ID card and family residence permit. Lu said the documents all say she was born in 1992, which would have made her eligible to compete. Gymnasts must turn 16 during the Olympic year to be eligible.


  135. Daniel Says:

    I don’t think it matters anymore. They are probably still investigating and so far from what I read there is no proof yet. However, judging from how many people commented here and elsewhere, a lot of them are dead set on both that they cheated and age doesn’t matter columns. Either way, I think people are still going to want to use this as something to gripe pubically about the Olympics, Chinese Gymnastics, etc after the games are done.

    I mean, think about it. What if they announce pubically that the girls were underaged? Would the reactions have been any different than now, if so many people are convinced…Sure there’s the whole integrity and face issue but it’s quite obvious that it matters little due to whatever issues they have against these games or the host in general.

  136. Blake Says:

    Americans seem to be focused on the few documents that indicate some of the Chinese gymnasts might be under 16, but they are ignoring the mountain of documents and competition records that indicate they are 16. One of the girls in question has a competition record dating back 10 years, when she was listed as being 6 years old.

    Americans also seem to forget that it was the USA that got caught in the worst cheating scandal in Olympic history…although most Americans are completely ignorant about it. At the 1988 Olympic trials, over 100 athletes, including Carl Lewis, tested positive for banned substances. The US Olympic Committee covered it up and let them compete anyway. It wasn’t until over 30,000 pages of official USOC documents were provided by the top anti-doping official in the US that this information became public.

    I assume all the posters here yelling “cheaters” are also in favor of stripping Carl Lewis of all the Olympic medals he won in 1988. There is far more proof that Carl Lewis cheated in 1988 than there is evidence that these gymnasts are 14.

  137. FOARP Says:

    @Blake – I sure as hell do think that Carl Lewis should be stripped of his medals, but don’t you find the removal of all reference to He Kexin’s age even from official sites incredibly suspicious?

    @Kitty – Also in the case of He Kexin? And who were the documents presented to?

  138. zhihua Says:

    Is the Japanese team cheating with age too?

    TSURUMI Koko
    Date of Birth: Sep 28 1992 Height(cm/ft in): 140cm / 4’7″
    Gender: Female Weight(kg/lbs): 34 kg / 75 lbs

    Date of Birth: Jan 1 1992 Height(cm/ft in): 142cm / 4’8″
    Gender: Female Weight(kg/lbs): 33 kg / 73 lbs

  139. zhihua Says:

    The second link is for He Kexin.

  140. zhihua Says:


    SEMENOVA Ksenia
    Russian Fed.RUS – Russian Fed.

    Date of Birth: Oct 20 1992 Height(cm/ft in): 138cm / 4’6″
    Gender: Female Weight(kg/lbs): 35 kg / 77 lbs

  141. zhihua Says:

    @Gan Lu
    “By the way, I’m an average sized Chinese adult. When I was ten years old, I was only 140 cm and 35 kg. Taller and heavier than He Kexin. 十六岁个屁。”

    Congratulations. You were taller and heavier than 16-year-old SEMENOVA Ksenia from Russia when you were only 10. What did you mom feed you?

    BTW, average sized Chinese adult, are you saying there are 650 million Chinese who are over sized than you and another 650 million Chinese who are under sized than you?

  142. zhihua Says:

    Team Japanese

    MINOBE Yu 1.47 / 4’10” 38 / 84 Feb 23 1990
    TSURUMI Koko 1.40 / 4’7″ 34 / 75 Sep 28 1992
    KURODA Mayu 1.45 / 4’9″ 37 / 81 Feb 20 1989
    OSHIMA Kyoko 1.49 / 4’11” 39 / 86 Aug 05 1986
    SHINTAKE Yuko 1.50 / 4’11” 38 / 84 Apr 20 1991
    UEMURA Miki 1.49 / 4’11” 38 / 84 Mar 06 1986


    Team USA

    MEMMEL Chellsie 1.60 / 5’3″ 54 / 119 Jun 23 1988
    LIUKIN Nastia 1.60 / 5’3″ 45 / 99 Oct 30 1989
    PESZEK Samantha 1.52 / 5’0″ 50 / 110 Dec 14 1991
    JOHNSON Shawn 1.45 / 4’9″ 41 / 90 Jan 19 1992
    SACRAMONE Alicia 1.55 / 5’1″ 53 / 117 Dec 03 1987
    SLOAN Bridget 1.50 / 4’11” 47 / 104 Jun 23 1992


    Oh no, BREAKING news!! Americans are overweight!

    (… lol. I just can’t resist the cheap shot. Sorry, my nice American friends)

  143. Blake Says:

    There are many times more documents and news reports that list He Kexin’s birthdate as 1992 than as 1994. With every media outlet in the US combing the Internet, they have only uncovered a handful of documents to support their case. In the process, they have hidden from Americans the vast numbers of documents that don’t support their case. This has left Americans with a very distorted view of the situation.

    As for the removal of “evidence” regarding He Kexin’s age, even if you include the removed documents, the vast majority of the evidence, including competition records, indicates that she is 16. Given that there are many times more documents indicating that she is 16, I think it is very likely that the two documents (one from the Chengdu Sports Bureau and one recently uncovered by Stryde Hax) were incorrect…although it appears they might have lied about her age so she could compete in a juniors event. The documents indicating He is only 14 are clearly inconsistent with all the other documentation including records from competitions sanctioned by the FIG. I suspect that the organizations in China are removing incorrect information from their sites to prevent it from being used as “evidence” by the US media.

    If this were a court of law, the preponderance of the evidence indicates that the gymnasts from China are 16. Americans are quick to say a couple of documents are “proof” that the Chinese cheated. If a couple of documents are proof, what about hundreds of documents?

  144. Bob Says:

    There are so many different issues and controversies around the Olympics. BUT, there are several points to be considered:
    1. How come other events have 14 and 15 year olds? While there IS the IOC, most all of the ‘events’ have their own sanctioning bodies. In this case, the gymnastics sactioning body has stated that all athletes must be 16 during the year of the olympics. Other sports have their own rules. The rule is intended to give a more level competition field. Are there gymnasts who are more ‘developed’ at 16 than others? Yes, in both Women’s AND men’s gymnastics. While it has been shown that there are ‘developmental’ differences between a 16 year old non-gymnast and a gymnast, there is still such a thing as genetics.
    2. Why is the spotlight so focused on China as ‘cheating’? Because several athletes in the recent past from China’s womens gymnastics have been reported to ‘admit’ that in fact they were underage at the time of their competition. China (if you focus on various articles, and interviews) have essentially stated that “they will do whatever is necessary to win the medals race”.
    3. China has developed an “athletic” factory at the real expense of its athletes. While the USA have its “sports parents” who push kids into sports, etc… China has developed programs in which kids are ‘drafted’ into. They have whole programs which remove children as young as 3 years old from their families, and put them into forced athletics programs. (think “puppy mills” if you are from the USA…) Their focus is NOT on education, but on developing them as athletes. (So what happens to the children who truely ‘age-out’ of the programs and are thrown back into society?) So long… sorry you didn’t turn into a champion….. good luck with your future…..
    4. Passports as identification; well, that one should just raise so many red flags! A government, with a vested interest in acheiving a particular goal, creating a document which backs up that goal…. enough said. If possible, I could get a passport that states I’m a 22 year old blonde female…. (when I’m the opposite and farthest from that)… Would that make me one? Evidently so by Chinese and IOC standards.
    5. One Chinese official stated that “you are looking at this wrong. Asians are of slight build, and smaller”…. no dice…. children 11 -14 years old just LOOK DIFFERENT physiologically (and I’m not talking about curves, etc…) than someone 16 years old or older. I have 16 and 18 year old daughters, and 11 – 13 year old nieces…. thier musculature and bone structures ARE DIFFERENT. I’m sure there are some medical types in the audience, but athletic exercise provides different musculature development between someone 16 years old and someone 13 years old.

    The spirit of the olympics is to provide a venue in which countries come together to compete in a spirit free from politics, etc…. when the “Win at All Costs” attitude is evident, I think that hurts the olympics as a whole.

  145. Kitty Says:

    @ FOARP

    Both passports and birth certificates were submitted to the FIG and the governing body of gymnastics, and it was IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies who said that they received the documents.
    “We believe the matter will be put to rest and there’s no question … on the eligibility,” DAVIES said. “The information we have received seems satisfactory in terms of the correct documentation—including birth certificates.”

    And in addition to her current and former passport and her birth certificate, He Kexin’s ID card and family residence permit were also submitted to the governing body of gymnastics.
    “He said the governing body of gymnastics was given additional documents Thursday night to try to dispel lingering questions. Those documents included He’s current and former passport, ID card and family residence permit. Lu said the documents all say she was born in 1992, which would have made her eligible to compete. Gymnasts must turn 16 during the Olympic year to be eligible.”


  146. Gan Lu Says:


    No, stupid, I’m not saying that. Don’t be ridiculous. What I AM saying is that most Chinese people would look at me and say that I’m neither tall nor short, neither fat nor particularly thin – just average.

    For the record, it’s He Kexin’s physical size AND the abundance of web-based documentary evidence that cause so many to believe that she is underage. In addition, the ability of authoritarian regimes such as China’s to alter passports and birth records is also cause for concern.

    Simply put, China has a credibility problem. This problem is as much a consequence of the nature of the CCP as it is the result of anything the CCP has done. The failure of the CCP to allow for meaningful checks and balances, freedom of speech, and an independent judiciary (among other things), has contributed to the credibility problem it now faces – not just with this He Kexin issue, but in many other, more important areas as well.

  147. Wahaha Says:

    3. China has developed an “athletic” factory at the real expense of its athletes. While the USA have its “sports parents” who push kids into sports, etc… China has developed programs in which kids are ‘drafted’ into. They have whole programs which remove children as young as 3 years old from their families, and put them into forced athletics programs. (think “puppy mills” if you are from the USA…) Their focus is NOT on education, but on developing them as athletes. (So what happens to the children who truely ‘age-out’ of the programs and are thrown back into society?) So long… sorry you didn’t turn into a champion….. good luck with your future…..

    Those kids are removed with the permission of their parents, not like Tibetan monks took kids from families before 1950, and usually Chinese parents push their very hard. In America, almost all the chinese kids have to go to special school during weekend, play piano class, swiming class, chess class, etc.

  148. Wahaha Says:

    ” Simply put, China has a credibility problem. This problem is as much a consequence of the nature of the CCP as it is the result of anything the CCP has done. ”

    It should be :

    Simply put, any authoritarian government has a credibility problem. This problem is as much a consequence of the nature of the authoritarian system..

  149. zhihua Says:

    @Gan Lu,

    Dear Mr Smart, usually when you are an average, 50% of the people would be higher than that average, with another 50% below it.

    Have just shown you three athletes from different countries who are of similar physical size as He Kexin?

    If you have a problem with the CCP, go join a revolution, don’t make little girls your ammunition.

  150. Blake Says:

    The vast effort and resources being expended to prove that the Chinese gymnasts are 14 just makes Americans look like pathetic sore losers. Countless manhours have been spent to uncover a few documents and news reports that indicate some of the Chinese gymnasts might by 14. However, this ignores the fact that there are many times more documents, including extensive competition records, that indicate they are 16. One of the gymnasts in question has a record of competition going back 10 years.

    Americans are great at ignoring any evidence that doesn’t support their agenda, and they are also great at forming opinions based on ignorance. From the first day of the Olympics, NBC has disgraced our country with their constant cry-baby attitude. The American media can’t even list the medal count in the official manner prescribed by the IOC. According to the US media, a team that wins 11 bronze medals is superior to a team that wins 10 gold medals. And Americans wonder why the rest of the world thinks we are utterly pathetic.

  151. zhihua Says:


    You are wrong. Americans don’t care that much about the Olympics. It’s the media people who thrives on controversies.

  152. Blake Says:

    Bob said: “3. China has developed an “athletic” factory at the real expense of its athletes. While the USA have its “sports parents” who push kids into sports, etc… China has developed programs in which kids are ‘drafted’ into. They have whole programs which remove children as young as 3 years old from their families, and put them into forced athletics programs. (think “puppy mills” if you are from the USA…) Their focus is NOT on education, but on developing them as athletes. (So what happens to the children who truely ‘age-out’ of the programs and are thrown back into society?) So long… sorry you didn’t turn into a champion….. good luck with your future…..”

    A child that doesn’t want to be a part of a sports program in China will not stay very long. If you think China is going to waste their time forcing children to participate in a sport they don’t enjoy, you are delusional. No athlete gets to an elite level that doesn’t absolutely love their sport, and the Chinese coaches know this. They might encourage athletes with great potential to stick it out when the going gets rough, but they are not going to waste their time on somone that doesn’t have the desire to win. China simply has too many athletes with great potential to waste their time on people that would rather be doing something else.

  153. Wahaha Says:

    “If you have a problem with the CCP,….”

    Actually, this maybe really the problem by West politicians and media. They simply hate communism. If you check Gordon Chang blog, you will find that he wants to see the collapse of CCP AT ANY COST.

    The south Korea leader in 1980 who killed hundreds of students, visited America right after 1980 uprising, and West politicians and West had no problem with his military government, they also had no problem with Suharto’s government.

    In my opinion, people like Gordon Chang and Pelosi are driven or blinded by their hatred towards communism.

  154. Lu Says:

    @Blake: “According to the US media, a team that wins 11 bronze medals is superior to a team that wins 10 gold medals.”

    One could say that under the gold medal count method, a team winning 1 gold is superior to a team winning 30 bronze medals. These statements don’t prove that either medal count method is better. A simple search shows that the majority of American media have used the total medal count ranking in the past few Olympic games. Anyway, what journalists wouldn’t use a ranking method that makes their own country look better?

  155. Blake Says:

    The IOC says medal counts should be listed by number of gold medals. If there is a tie, then silver medals are considered, and finally bronze. That is not only the official way, it is the way every country except the USA does it. Which is more important: having the most Olympic champions, or having the most losers?

  156. Daniel Says:

    Putting aside the rhetoric for a moment, on a related note, regarding the issue of sports. I questioned this notion of drafting into a sports program.
    For starters, to excel in any sport, you do have to enjoy it in some way. Even for those who have done it for so long and say they hate it for whatever reason, there must be something to that keeps them practicing besides “threatening or the fear of shame”. I think that is self-explainatory to leave it at that.
    The other thing is the parental pressure. It’s very debatable regarding how parenting should or should not be, but I can say that the stress applied by parents and how far they will go for the “sake of their kid’s talents” is not unique to any particular nationality or ethnic/cultural-religious group. I think it is common sense, especially for those involved, that success isn’t guranteed even with hard work.

    Technically, I would believe the whole sport factory theory if not were for the people I met from China (and other countries) who were athletes trained in those type of programs. Maybe there is an element of truth of plucking off the homes but the people I met (who were mostly swimmers born in the 80s if it matters) said it’s not entirely true and you do have a choice in what to do with your life. To a certain extent, no one can force you to go beyond what you want to do, and for some leisure activities like sports, it should make sense. With some exceptions, a lot of athletes did start young, and some besides in China, have left home and gone to such questionable schools and programs. On the other hand, these are just personal interactions. You all may have more concrete experiences and observations and other evidence to support that so maybe there’s more to understand about.

  157. Blake Says:

    Lu said:
    “Anyway, what journalists wouldn’t use a ranking method that makes their own country look better?”

    Any journalist with an ounce of integrity. If someone manipulates the news to make their own country look better, they are not a journalist…they are a propagandist.

  158. zhihua Says:


    Different countries have different ways of ranking the medal counts. Does it really matter? …

  159. Lu Says:

    Blake, the point is that no method is better. Either method is valid. Since journalists in America have used the total medal count method for years now, this year is no different.

  160. Blake Says:

    @Zhihua and Lu,
    I guess you are arguing that a bronze is just as good as a gold medal, since that’s what the total medal count method implies. The IOC has an official method, but Americans would rather live with the delusion that a bronze is just as good as a gold. Remember, the Olympics is an event that seeks to find the best athletes in any particular sport. To argue that an Olympic champion should be counted the same as a bronze medalist is pathetic. Of course the Olympics are not really about winning medals, they are about fostering peace and cooperation. But then again, these are two concepts many Americans don’t really believe in.

  161. B.T. Says:

    I think allot of people are adopting a passive attitude about this whole age scandal and passing it off as “The US is just pissed that they lost to CHINA and even worse they lost to ‘toddlers’ at that, so what?”

    On the surface I didn’t really care much either, but if you think about it, if these allegations are true, this is a HUGE SCREW JOB not just to the USA but to ALL countries competing in women’s gymnastics.

    How many of these countries have phenomenal, medal worthy gymnasts they could of entered but barely missed the age qualification cut off?

    Someone like a Nastia Liukin is a perfect example. She would get ROYALLY screwed if this is true!

    Not only would she get screwed out of her team and individual Gold medal in Beijing, but also screwed for Athen’s ‘04, she was 15 then and missed the Olympic cut off age by only 60 days!

    That’s a hell of allot closer to 16 then the alleged ages of these Chinese girls.
    This is a very serious scandal and shouldn’t be dismissed lightly.

    If and I say ‘if’ this is true, CHINA’s women’s gymnastics program should be banned from the London games to get the point across that this is flat out fraudulence and robbery.

  162. Charles Liu Says:

    Now He Kexin’s parents have stepped forward with birth certificate and residence registration, what action should the media take, if it is *once again* substantiated by the IOC He is 16, thus proving no foul play?

    This really brings “China can’t win” whole new meaning.

    Someone really should take up a collection, so He Kexin’s parents can come to US to contront US Olympic Committee exec Jim Scherr.

  163. EugeneZ Says:

    If it is true that 19-year old women are unlikely to compete effectively to win Olympics gymnasium gold because they are physically too old, then the rule of the minimum age of 16 is absurd. Olympics happen every 4 years, what do you expect the 15-year old to do? She can not compete in this Olympics, and she can not effectively compete in Landon. So throw away all these years of training and scarifice ? This rule is forcing people to cheat.

    Having said that, a rule is a rule, if the Chinese girls are in violation, they will have to be punished. But how to prove? It is almost impossible.

  164. Blake Says:

    If you think an entire country’s Olympic team should be banned from an Olympics for lying about the age of a few gymnasts, how many Olympics should a team be banned for covering up the fact that over 100 of their athletes tested positive for a banned substance at 4 different Olympic Games.

    Carl Lewis tested positive for 3 banned substances at the 1988 US Olympic trials, but the US Olympic Committee cheated, and then covered it up. In all, 19 medals were won between 1988 and 2000 by US athletes that tested positive for banned substances. Certainly you would agree that all of those medals should be returned, including the three won by Carl Lewis in 1988. The US Olympic Committee systematically ignoring and covering up of over 100 positive tests for banned substances is without question the greatest cheating scandal in Olympic history, but most Americans don’t even know about it.

  165. FOARP Says:

    @Charls Liu – But then you would have to ignore the fact that up unyil a few months ago, everyone, including an official from the Chinese sports authority, was independently (i.e., not simply quoting a single incorrect report) saying that this girl was 13 years old. You’ve got to admit that looks incredibly suspicious.

  166. B.T. Says:

    People forget that the life span of a female gymnast is not far from that of a fruit fly. 99% of female gymnastic medal winners have a ‘teen’ punctuating the end of their age. The few in their 20’s that even make it are complete disasters. You can visibly see the difference in their performance and mind-sets.

    This sport is EXTREMELY demanding on the body and if you look at He Kexin’s ‘alleged’ birthday then you can see why the temptation to lie would be so strong. According to her alleged age she wouldn’t be able to enter the Olympics until the London games, making her 18 yrs old!

    That’s exactly what happened to Nastia, she’s 18, this is her 1st Olympics (most likely her last) and all we heard about was her frigging injuries and surgeries she’s had and how she almost didn’t think she would make it to Beijing. My God you’d think they were talking about a racehorse their gonna have to put a bullet in.

    Age falsifying in the Olympics has become a huge problem in women’s gymnastics. If found guilty the IOC needs to fine and ban the Chinese women’s gymnastics team from the ‘12 London games or simply throw this damn age limit restriction out the window if they’re not going to enforce it.

    This is ridiculous and the one’s that are getting hurt the most are the athletes; especially those who played by the rules and were honest.

  167. Charles Liu Says:

    Foarp, not everyone, please check the dozen or so search links I have provided in Trackback 3, where most of the cache are/should still be intact. And who is this “official from the Chinese sports authority”? Can you cite him/her?

    He’s coach gave an interview during the prelim 10 days ago, and he said he found He in 1997 when she was 5. Some reporter tried to trick her by asking her birth zodiac (she said Monkey).

    Isn’t He Kexin presumed innocent until there’s she is proven guilty under the rules? Whatever happened to presumption of innocence?

  168. FOARP Says:

    @Charles – It was Liu Peng,head of the State General Administration of Sports, in a speech given last November. Once you see one thing out of order you then just start to disbelieve everything that’s being said and trusting in what common sense tells you. Common sense says that journalists often get details like this wrong, but not multiple times all making the same mistake. Common sense says that when mistakes are made there is often an explanation for the mistake, but none has been offered in this case. Common sense says that I should be suspicious about this girl’s age.

    ‘Presumed innocent’ does not mean that we should not investigate – or are you saying there are no questions to answer?

  169. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Charles Liu:
    I don’t think anyone is accusing He of lying, or being the one ultimately responsible for any falsification if one does exist. This is about the government, baby. It’s way more than being about just 1 athlete. It’s the system and the mentality.

  170. Charles Liu Says:

    Foarp, can I find Liu Peng’s speech somewhere?

    My apology for being a total w@nker, but I’ve tried my best to provide factual citation for claims I make.

  171. S.K. Cheung Says:

    This whole charade is quite humorous. THe IOC has a PR problem, one that can’t go away fast enough, as far as it’s concerned. So it tasks the FIG to “investigate”. The FIG plays along, and asks the Chinese governing body to provide further documentation. These are the same rocket scientists who provided the age certification BEFORE the Games…gee, if they were lying then, any wagers on the likelihood of them coming clean now? So the conclusions of the investigation are obvious, even if the veracity of those conclusions may never be. That’s too bad, for everyone involved.

    However, this whole circus points to underlying realities. If an American gymnast had been accused of age irregularities, but produces an official document (eg birth certificate) to support her claim, end of story. This is not because international media simply want to believe Americans; it’s because American government institutions trade on solid moral authority (albeit somewhat less now than pre-Iraq). But when a Chinese athlete is accused of irregularities, she could produce a stack of “official” Chinese documents higher than her 4’7” frame, but to international eyes, it is likely worth less than the paper it’s written on. This is not because the international media would want to pick on a little girl; it’s because Chinese government institutions have fostered, over 6 decades, a reputation that is, how shall I put it, the opposite of rock-solid. So really, the Chinese government (all levels) has made their bed, and now’s the time to take a nap in it. Too bad someone’s asleep at the switch when the whole world’s staring. If any good comes of this, maybe this will be one further small impetus for Chinese government house-cleaning.

  172. Blake Says:

    you said – “But then you would have to ignore the fact that up unyil a few months ago, everyone, including an official from the Chinese sports authority, was independently (i.e., not simply quoting a single incorrect report) saying that this girl was 13 years old. You’ve got to admit that looks incredibly suspicious.”

    That is completely untrue. Either you don’t understand the situation or you are misrepresenting the facts. Up until the City Games, everyone said she was born in 1992. The Chengdu Sports Bureau’s registration sheet and the new spreadsheets found by Stryde Hax are the only documents state that she is 14. The hundreds of other documents related to these womens’ carrers all say they are 16. All the news reports that said she He was born in 1994 were based on a single event hosted by the Chengdu Sports Bureau. In all other competitions these gymnasts were listed as being born in 1992. On of the gymnasts in question has a record of competition going back 10 years.

    There are hundreds of documents that say these gymnasts are 16, but Americans choose to ignore that in favor of the handful of documents that support their agenda. Are Americans really dumb enough to think that these gymnasts only competed in one event prior to the Olympics? Just ask yourself why the US media hasn’t shown the registration forms from all the other events they have competed in. Of course the reason is that the registration forms the media are touting as “proof” are in fact anomalies.

  173. GNZ Says:

    if you know that for a fact then produce the documents – there are millions of us out here who would be as happy as anything to take your proof and set the record straight. Given that fact I find the absence of such evidence concerning.

  174. Daniel Says:

    I too am curious about the many documents Blake stated there is.
    Just to make a point, I’m staying in the middle of the issue in case and because it’s a bit tiring to pull this issue with all the other athletes and sports. However, I guess that’s just how it is and what people want to do.

    The other article regarding verifying age and subjectivity at first seem a little interesting, but later on after reading the post along with the comments, it didn’t seem worth posting in there with the seemingly questionable statements and mini arguement it seems to be having.

  175. Charles Liu Says:

    GNZ, the fact IOC and FIG has cleared the allegation earlier means such documents do exist.

  176. Tim Says:

    To clear all this up we should be able to find some documents that state He is 16 instead of all these documents that say she is 14. The easiest documents to find are those that show her birthdate as 1994 and not 1991 or 2 or whatever. If these documents exist to those that argue He is 16 then lets see them. Post a link! Show us!

  177. Tim Says:

    Thats what I thougt!!

  178. GNZ Says:

    You mean the Passport exists? Well yes – but that is exactly where the previous gymnasts who falsified their ages seem to have done it. But I’m expecting a flood of proof, the sort of flood I could produce if I wanted to prove my age. Again if there is such proof and I see it, I’ll be all over the net telling everyone.

  179. GNZ Says:

    I mean if the media is failing to do its job to spread those facts and they are convincing, of course.

  180. B.T. Says:

    Unfortunately the facts and mounting pieces of evidence surfacing are simply futile in this scandal. The bottom line is the girls have an authorized Chinese govt issued passport. That 1 document trumps EVERYTHING.

    Trust me, regardless of what evidence may be found, at the end of all of this the IOC won’t challenge the integrity of the Chinese govt, to do so would insinuate that the govt was a culprit in this scandal by authorizing passports with false ages and the IOC will not go there. CASE CLOSED

  181. Charles Liu Says:

    GNZ et al, I’m not sure where this Yang Yun thing is comming from. She still has her medal. Can anyone show me IOC taking her medal away?

    And He Kexin has nothing to do with Yang Yun, and should be presumed innocent.

  182. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Yang Yun won her medal in 2000. I believe the “statute of limitations” on revoking medals is 8 years (I could certainly be wrong about that), so hers is in the books for good. Regardless, whether she still has her medal is irrelevant; what is relevant is that she admitted to funny business about her age. And if funny business happened once (and particularly since they got away with it), it could certainly happen again. Hence the current discussion.
    He Kexin has nothing to do with Yang Yun, except being products of the same system.
    As FOARP (i believe) said, presumption of innocence does not mean immunity from investigation.

  183. Daniel Says:


    Apparently there is a way to find out how old they “may be” (which I have to remind everyone that it is maybe) to determine the ages if passports or birth certificates aren’t good enough. However, the way this article is worded, it still sounds like people are on the same page where the reactions would be roughly the same regardless of the outcome.

    Which reminds me, I want to mentioned that gymnastics supposedly is one of the most watched events during the Olympic games (at least it sort of is in the US) so I get the feeling that well….nevermind.

  184. Gan Lu Says:

    The IOC and FIG, in accepting He Kexin’s passport and birth records as proof of her age, are essentially choosing to accept the Chinese government’s word. Laughable, to say the least.

    Can you imagine what would happen if He Kexin was disqualified and the Chinese deprived of all their gymnastics medals? Think about it. The problem is that when one deals with China on such matters, one is dealing with the Chinese government – not simply the athlete and his/her coach. As such, such conflicts, assume a seriousness that they do not in most other countries (where the governments do not become directly involved in such disputes). Just one consequence of China’s increasingly backward system.

  185. Nimrod Says:

    Bob #144 wrote:

    “3. China has developed an “athletic” factory at the real expense of its athletes. While the USA have its “sports parents” who push kids into sports, etc… China has developed programs in which kids are ‘drafted’ into. They have whole programs which remove children as young as 3 years old from their families, and put them into forced athletics programs. (think “puppy mills” if you are from the USA…) Their focus is NOT on education, but on developing them as athletes. ”

    This is a dubious characterization at best. There are “sports schools” that offer a free ride to students, much like scholarships. Some students and their parents may find those attractive. Students especially competent in athletic abilities or have potential (like Yao Ming, for example), may be encouraged to go on that path, but nobody is “drafting” you like a forced military draft. Nobody can make you do it, period. Those schools are not all athletics, either, and I know some people who go to a normal university afterwards and never do sports again. Obviously they’ve learned enough of the regular curriculum to pass the entrance exams.

  186. Nimrod Says:

    Gan Lu wrote:

    “The IOC and FIG, in accepting He Kexin’s passport and birth records as proof of her age, are essentially choosing to accept the Chinese government’s word. Laughable, to say the least.”

    Why is it laughable? It’s not the job of the IOC or FIG to determine the political or moral authority of countries, which is an impossible task to begin with. In making a rule that passports are an acceptable proof of age, these organizations are implicitly choosing to trust all the various NOC’s and will apply the rule uniformly. If that’s found to be particularly unworkable, then maybe next time they will try a different, more effective rule.

  187. DJ Says:

    The latest NYT article on this topic described the official Chinese explanation that seems to point to the alternative theory offered in this post.

    Cui Dalin, the vice minister of the General Administration of Sport of China, said He Kexin, the uneven bars Olympic champion, had moved from one team to another last year, and a wrong birth date was written on the registration forms for the new team.

    “During the registration, there were some discrepancies in the age of the athlete, therefore that mistake has led to a series of misunderstandings afterward,”

  188. Charles Liu Says:

    DJ, sharp eyed netters already noticed He Kexin’s 1994 DOB “mistake” goes back more than 1 years.

    Do you know where Cui’s original statement is? Western sources have different accounts, from “last year” to “registration” to “team change”. He Kexin was on a 2 year exchange program to Wuhan.

  189. Frank Says:

    There might or might not be problem of cheating on age, by some official eager to win, but don’t put that burden on He Kexing or Hu JinTao or Wen Jiabao. You don’t blame Canada govenment when Johnson was found on drug, same with many US athletes in the past.
    All in all, He Kexing was graceful on the floor excercise, a real champion. The Olympic in Beijin was an eye openner no doubt. Viva la chine.
    For US friends, you have to work doubly hard in future competition, not only in badminton and table tennis, but across all spectrum of competition. Are you ready? Will you be there to compete or continue complaining for whatever reason?

  190. admin Says:

    FIG concludes Beijing investigation

  191. Spelunker Says:


    According to the above article, He Kexin is still 16 today despite the January 1 birthdate on her reissued passport.

  192. Blake Says:

    It’s nice that the FIG didn’t become fixated on the couple of documents and news reports that incorrectly stated these gymnasts’ ages. All of the competition records for these girls clearly show they were 16, except for the ones Americans are fixated on. For Americans, it doesn’t matter if these girls have extensive competition records, birth certificates, and school records, all showing they were 16…what matters is that Americans want to believe that they were not 16. Despite the mountain of evidence evidence and the FIG investigation, which included a review of their own records for these girls, Most Americans will continue to believe these girls were not 16 because ethnocentricity and racism will always win out over the truth.

  193. Stinky Tofu Says:

    The following article might re-ignite interest in the subject of this post. From Reuters:

    Sport-Thousands of Chinese athletes faking ages in Guangdong

    BEIJING, March 11 (Reuters) – The sports ministry in Guangdong Province says it has undertaken X-Ray bone analysis on 15,000 youth athletes and found a fifth of them had misrepresented their age, local media reported.

    Suspicions of age faking have dogged Chinese sport over the last couple of years and at one stage threatened to cause huge embarrassment for the hosts at last year’s Beijing Olympics.

    Guangdong is hosting the Asian Games in its capital Guangzhou next year and the deputy sports bureau chief of the southern province said they would be taking no chances.

    “We want to make sure fakers have no advantage,” Ye Xiquan told the Guangzhou Daily newspaper.

    The athletes tested were the top eight in each event at provincial youth competitions in 2008 and all those who had signed up for this year’s Provincial Games.

    The result showed 3,000 were older than they claimed, 2,000 of whom were no longer eligible for any youth sport and 1,000 who should have competed in different age categories. Ye said 16 athletes in one event had faked their age and the worst offenders were up to seven years older than they were allowed to be.

    Funding follows success in China’s state-run sports system so officials at city and provincial level have long been suspected of using overage players to help them win tournaments.

    China was accused of adding years to the age of two gymnasts so they would be eligible to compete at last year’s Olympics after media reports indicated the gold medallists might be younger than 16.

    The governing International Gymnasts Federation (FIG) investigated at the behest of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and were satisfied with documentary evidence provided by the Chinese authorities.

    The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) last year discovered 26 players who had inaccurately registered their ages playing in its top flight league.

    New Jersey Nets forward Yi Jianlian is officially listed as being 21 but a cloud of suspicion surrounded his age before was picked sixth by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2007 NBA draft. (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney and Liu Zhen; Editing by John O’Brien)


  194. Stinky Tofu Says:

    Here’s another interesting piece – this one from the BBC:

    China athletes ‘faked their age’
    16 March 2009

    Bone tests on teenage athletes in south China have shown that thousands had faked their age, often in order to keep competing in junior events.

    Tests on nearly 13,000 athletes found that more than 3,000 were older than their registered age, according to the Sports Bureau of Guangdong Province.

    At least one athlete was seven years older than their stated age, but most were said to differ by a year or two.

    The news comes as Guangdong prepares to host the 2010 Asian Games.

    The investigation is the latest in a number of initiatives by the Chinese authorities to crack down on the practice of age-faking, which many experts believe is rampant.

    “ Based on the bone X-ray examinations, we will review all the results of youth sports competition in 2008 ”
    Sports Bureau of Guangdong
    The expensive bone age analysis tests were carried out on teenage athletes registered with sports academies in Guangdong.

    The province’s governing body found that about a fifth of those tested had lied about how old they were.

    “We must ensure that those athletes faking their ages cannot find any way to take advantage [in competition],” officials were quoted by local media as saying.

    “Based on the bone X-ray examinations, we will review all the results of youth sports competition in 2008.”

    ‘Widespread practice’

    Funding of sport at provincial level is dependent on success.

    The BBC’s sport news reporter, Alex Capstick, says local officials are under huge pressure to win, which makes them more likely to bend the rules.

    It is no surprise some athletes and their families, many of whom see sport as a way out of hardship, have joined in the lie as the system only rewards the very best, our correspondent says.

    Chinese athletes have faced repeated claims of age-faking in recent years.

    At last year’s Olympics in Beijing, some of China’s gold-winning gymnasts were alleged to be below the minimum age of 16.

    However, after an inquiry, the sport’s governing body cleared them of any wrongdoing.

    The Chinese Basketball Association recently announced that last year 26 players in the top league had registered an incorrect age. This would have allowed them to represent junior teams when they were in fact too old.

    There have been similar problems in football.

    At the weekend, it emerged that a badminton player who had won a provincial title as a 14-year-old had now admitted to being 17 at the time of the contest.

    Story from BBC NEWS:

  195. FOARP Says:

    @Stinky Tofu – I had thought about posting that report (either great minds think alike or fools seldom differ – you decide). But I guess it does support Nimrod’s original theory – He Kexin may well have been telling the truth at the Olympics, but lying before.

  196. Stinky Tofu Says:

    More on Chinese cheaters at


    This time, the culprits are a Chinese girls high school soccer team.

  197. Oli Says:

    Boy! Somebody sure has a persistent mentally disturbing obssession. More crazies from an obviously very limited gene pool who can’t differentiate the motivation and actions of the individual from the group.

  198. Stinky Tofu Says:

    The principal of the Chinese high school that sent a team of national team ringers to an international tournament in Turkey finally admits to cheating. The principal, however, could not have acted without the knowledge and assistance of football association officials at 中國體育總局. Of course, U.S. and European athletes also cheat. Even so, when China’s athletes cheat, the Chinese government is usually involved.


    China School Admits Football Scam

    A Chinese principal has admitted that the school football team which won an international contest was stuffed with national squad players.

    Only three of the players actually attended Daping high school for girls in the south-western city of Chongqing, Chinese media said.

    Principal Zhang Jianling has now made a public apology for the scandal.

    The team won the trophy 12 days ago, beating a German team in the final. Officials say they will hand it back.

    According to International School Sport Federation rules, all players taking part in the tournament must be enrolled at the school they are representing.

    Reports said the team had been stacked with players from the national youth team and other top teams.

    ‘Image undermined’

    Mr Zhang, who faces disciplinary action, initially denied cheating, the China Daily newspaper said, but had now taken full responsibility.

    “In order to have a best result in the tournament, we used other members in the team without making it known to superior government and the public,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

    “What we have done goes against sportsmanship and has undermined the image of our city as well as soccer’s development in China.

    “We sincerely apologise for what we have done.”

    Chinese sport has been hit by numerous allegations of cheating through falsification of credentials.

    Bone tests on teenage athletes in Guangdong province in March found that more than 3,000 were older than their registered age.

    And at last year’s Olympics in Beijing, some of China’s gold-winning gymnasts were alleged to be below the minimum age of 16, though they were later cleared of any wrongdoing.

  199. YWX Says:

    There’s a good post over at the China Media Project regarding China’s national culture of cheating.


    There is also this recent editorial from the Beijing Morning Post:






  200. YWX Says:

    China’s women’s gymnastics team stripped of 2000 Olympics bronze medal


  201. Charles Liu Says:

    2000 medal is because of Dong. He is still exhonorated of any age charge AFAIK.

  202. S.K.Cheung Says:

    The USA Today piece seems to suggest that Dong’s personal result is nullified, as is the team result, precisely because of her age, which should have rendered her ineligible to compete. But the responsibility rests not with her, but with the team, as the CMP article suggests.

  203. No99 Says:

    Take it easy guys and don’t lose too much sleep over it. It’s not like other athletes from other nations (sometimes with involvement from authorities) haven’t cheated in some way and been strip of their medal. Of course, jumping on the bandwagon, there’s going to be a lot of talk from everywhere regarding this incident with sprouts here and there of questionable content. There are a lot of scandals and plenty of things to worry about in this life.

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  1. Olympic games updates » Blog Archive » Has the He Kexin’s age been changed to older or younger?
  2. Imagethief : More debate on He Kexin and "babygate"
  3. (Letter) Chinese gymnasts age controversy | Fool's Mountain: Blogging for China
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  5. Olympic Blog » Blog Archive » He Kexin 13 Or 16? Will We Ever Know?
  6. He says 14, We say 16. Web says Chinese can’t count. | WeMedia
  7. Gymnastics Coaching » Blog Archive » are age falsification acusers hypocrites?

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