Surprise: IOC to probe whether fetal Chinese gymnast is underage

posted at 4:36 pm on August 22, 2008 by Allahpundit

Would a government willing to risk a global pandemic of SARS just to protect its own image go so far as to change a date on a passport? An anxious world pauses, ponders the rouged embryo that just won gold on the uneven bars, and waits.

“More information has come to light that did point to discrepancies,” [IOC spokesman Giselle] Davies said. “We have asked the gymnastics federation to look into it further with the national Chinese federation. If there is a question mark, and we have a concern – which we do – we ask the governing body of any sport to look into … as to why there is a discrepancy.”

The man who uncovered the allegations about the underage athlete told The Times that he was not even a sports a fan, but decided to investigate the issue to determine if Chinese authorities were lying. He eventually discovered that two Excel spreadsheets on the Chinese government’s official sports website – www.sport.gov.cn – that mentioned her name had recently being removed.

“There was a conclusion here,” [computer security expert Mike] Walker said. “These documents existed, on a state-wide website, and now they don’t exist, and this change has taken place recently. I was interested because these were documents that no-one could find. If there’s information to be found on the internet I’m a citizen journalist – it was a challenge.”…

Under his blog name Stryde Hax, Mr Walker wrote: “Much of the coverage regarding Kexin’s age has only mentioned ‘allegations’ of fraud, and the IOC has ignored the matter completely. I believe that these primary documents, issued by the Chinese state … rise to a level of evidence higher than ‘allegation’. How official are these documents? Pretty dang official – they were issued by the General Administration of Sport of China.”

The two spreadsheets in question list her DOB as 1/1/94, making her not quite 18 months shy of the eligibility age of 16. I won’t insult your intelligence by asking why the IOC waited until the end of the Olympics to investigate this when questions were being raised back at the start of the Games, before the gymnastics events even took place, about whether passports and a team’s ipse dixit were reliable proof of age. Here’s your exit question instead: Why was China so sloppy about hiding the evidence? Not only did Walker find the spreadsheets on a government website, but until recently reports of the actual ages of the gymnasts were available on Chinese state news pages. They spent years planning a mind-blowing opening ceremony to impress the world, yet no one thought to devote five minutes to scrubbing the ‘Net of evidence of their grand fraud in the actual competition?


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Maxx on August 22, 2008 at 5:57 PM

Again, what about the girls that finished 4th? They spent their entire lives training and missed a spot on the podium because the Chinese govt. cheated.

BadgerHawk on August 22, 2008 at 6:02 PM

Chudi: You’ve unfairly been called a leftist and a xenophobe in this thread…but you’ve still got friends here. Chime in more often so everybody can get to know you, please!

RushBaby on August 22, 2008 at 6:04 PM

sanguine4 on August 22, 2008 at 5:53 PM

Also, your lack of nutritional food argument doesn’t hold up either. The Chinese gymnasts start training at the age of 3 and only see their parents once or twice a year. They get whatever meals and nutrients they need from the Chinese govt.

BadgerHawk on August 22, 2008 at 6:05 PM

RushBaby on August 22, 2008 at 6:04 PM

Heh. I wasn’t really calling Chudi a xenophobe.

BadgerHawk on August 22, 2008 at 6:06 PM

Someone earlier stated that Shawn Johnson is 4′11″ tall. She is actually 4′09″ tall. Her number was 411. But in looking at her web site to find that out, what really surprised me was at birth her APGAR Score was 0. This little girl needed a lot of help to come in to this world and thank God her Doctors didn’t give up on her.

meci on August 22, 2008 at 5:57 PM

Whoa! you’re right! she is 4’9″ tall!

I was just watch it one night one of the announcers said that she was 4’11″ so.. i just took their word for it.. I just look at NBC’s website and you are correct! thank you!

http://www.nbcolympics.com/athletes/athlete=619/bio/index.html

BTW, she’s only 16 but, i think shes a little ‘cutie’ >:D

Shes A little ball of muscle, i nicknamed her “Fireball!” she gots power! :D

Chakra Hammer on August 22, 2008 at 6:06 PM

You ever notice that people who are born in America but are ethnically 100% Chinese tend to tower over their parents? I know many Chinese-American men who are 5′11, 6′ tall, whose fathers might be 5′5 or so. You may attribute that to highly processed foods… I attribute it to having an appropriate amount of food. A lot of Chinese are malnourished, even though China doesn’t want to tell you that.

Outlander on August 22, 2008 at 5:59 PM

yea like Yao Ming.. ;)

Chakra Hammer on August 22, 2008 at 6:08 PM

yea like Yao Ming.. ;)

Chakra Hammer on August 22, 2008 at 6:08 PM

What about him? I just looked at his papers, he’s 5’3″………

dead-duck on August 22, 2008 at 6:26 PM

For BigOldDog, among others.

The Real Medal Count.

misterpeasea on August 22, 2008 at 6:34 PM

Again, what about the girls that finished 4th? They spent their entire lives training and missed a spot on the podium because the Chinese govt. cheated.

BadgerHawk on August 22, 2008 at 6:02 PM

That’s a good point. Obviously you can never recapture that moment of fame that was lost. But you’re right, not only should Gold be presented to whoever lost it to her but the metals should shift downward, Silver to what was third place and Bronze to fourth.

But I still wouldn’t take the Gold from her, this was not her fault. The authorities had control over this, not her. Keep in mind, this is China and telling the authorities you are not going to compete after they have sponsored you is probably not an option.

However they resolve it, they shouldn’t take it our on the girl. That’s all I’m saying.

Maxx on August 22, 2008 at 6:34 PM

Fair point, Maxx. I certainly don’t want to take anything away from the gymnasts themselves. They’ve obviously very talanted. But cheating is cheating. Letting China get away with it now just encourages others to do it later.

BadgerHawk on August 22, 2008 at 6:37 PM

Also, your lack of nutritional food argument doesn’t hold up either. The Chinese gymnasts start training at the age of 3 and only see their parents once or twice a year. They get whatever meals and nutrients they need from the Chinese govt.

BadgerHawk on August 22, 2008 at 6:05 PM

It’s likely the government wouldn’t put her on the Michael Phelps 12,000 calorie-a-day diet if the hope was she’d remain small.

Seems naive of the IOC to set the age-limit rule and then simply accept government documents–that really isn’t a standard since every country is different.

Also, Allah is right that the Chinese have done a bad job of building a case for her being 16. You’d think that they’d have prepared better for the accusations that they knew were coming, given how obviously young He appears. This would seem especially true if they knew she was only 14 and had to cover things up.

If this blows up on the Chinese, it will be interesting to see how the government orchestrates a fall guy that the higher-ups can dump the blame on.

dedalus on August 22, 2008 at 6:44 PM

But I still wouldn’t take the Gold from her, this was not her fault. The authorities had control over this, not her. Keep in mind, this is China and telling the authorities you are not going to compete after they have sponsored you is probably not an option.

However they resolve it, they shouldn’t take it our on the girl. That’s all I’m saying.

Maxx on August 22, 2008 at 6:34 PM

I feel bad for the Chinese girl, but they should take her medal away if she is ineligible. They strip all members of a relay team if one cheats even though it must be horrible for the clean athletes on the team. The NCAA is even more Draconian in punishing the innocent–I think they happen to be wrong, but that’s another story.

dedalus on August 22, 2008 at 6:52 PM

BREAKING NEWS

Deputy technical delegate of boxing suspended at Beijing Olympic Games

BEIJING, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) — Rodel Obreja of Romania, deputy technical delegate of the Beijing Olymic boxing competition, has been suspended from his post over attempts of manipulating the competition, according to an official communication by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) on Friday.

The communication was issued hours after Obreja accused that the refereeing selection and judging system was manipulated.

However, AIBA said they had obtained information regarding a possible attempt, “both within the organization and within the competition officials”, to manipulate the competition two months prior to the start of the Olympic boxing events.

“As additional information regarding possible attempts of manipulation emerged the AIBA Executive Committee Bureau suspended Mr. Obreja on August 22 from the competition,” the communication said.

AIBA has been in the process of reform since the election of AIBA president Ching-Kuo Wu in 2006 and the substantial improvement in transparency and honesty has been evident with only four protests in the 249 bouts to date at the Beijing Olympic Games.

TheBigOldDog on August 22, 2008 at 7:02 PM

I feel bad for the Chinese girl, but they should take her medal away if she is ineligible. They strip all members of a relay team if one cheats even though it must be horrible for the clean athletes on the team. The NCAA is even more Draconian in punishing the innocent–I think they happen to be wrong, but that’s another story.

dedalus on August 22, 2008 at 6:52 PM

If the Chinese had any integrity they would take full responsibility for this. I doubt that will happen. I suspect the Chinese will miraculously determine that the dates that indicated she was underage were [surprise] ….. wrong. That’s not fair to anybody but that’s China.

Maxx on August 22, 2008 at 7:05 PM

Fair point, Maxx. I certainly don’t want to take anything away from the gymnasts themselves. They’ve obviously very talanted. But cheating is cheating. Letting China get away with it now just encourages others to do it later.

BadgerHawk on August 22, 2008 at 6:37 PM

They stripped Jim Thorpe’s decathlon gold medal from him because he played semipro baseball at one time.

Screw the Chinese. Strip the medals. Ban them from 2012 gymnastics competition.

fossten on August 22, 2008 at 7:10 PM

It’s purely insane that a few people here justify cheating on behalf of a corrupt communist regime who has been proven to cheat before!

I’ve never understood Leftists who think it’s perfectly fine that illegal immigrants break our laws for their own ends, and I don’t understand people who justify cheating. I don’t tolerate it and I’ve trained my children to not tolerate it.

Even small kids know cheating is wrong. Apparently that is not so for adults who live in morally ambiguous shades of gray. These people reveal much more about themselves than I think they realize.

Chudi: Chime in more often so everybody can get to know you, please!

RushBaby on August 22, 2008 at 6:04 PM

Maybe we already know enough?

Redhead Infidel on August 22, 2008 at 7:14 PM

Folks. This is real simple.

If you are smaller and less massive (in women’s gymnastics), you are liable to win. 13-14 years old seems to be the sweet spot in muscle development vs. weight and leverage ratios.

Olympic-level athletic training at those ages delays the onset of puberty — none of these girls are likely to have a period, for example. This could explain the girlish Chinese gymnasts… but it really doesn’t, based on the documentary evidence.

So China cheated. Not a surprise, considering the emphasis they placed on this year’s Olympics, and the fact that their Olympic gymnasts are taken from their families at age 3 and put through this grueling regimen for the rest of their youth — and that China has spared no expense in the last decade to be sure they would sweep their own Olympics.

The key here is that the ChiCom gov’t is not playing this for the West — they care not a whit what we really think, as long as we buy their goods. They’re playing for the national pride of China — trying hard to stave off the attractions of the free West by showing just how superior the Middle Kingdom is.

Prufrock on August 22, 2008 at 7:19 PM

But I still wouldn’t take the Gold from her, this was not her fault. The authorities had control over this, not her.

I feel bad for the cute little kid too but she’s been personally asked by reporters how old she is and (if she IS 14) she bald-faced lied right to them and said she was 16. She also said what she did on her 15th birthday. In effect, those girls know how old they are when they step up to the podium and take the medal. Even cute little girls can cheat and lie about it.

If there’s proof they MUST take the rewards away.

JonPrichard on August 22, 2008 at 7:19 PM

What is the sentimental value of a Gold medal from an event she was not even eligible for? She has nice memories and a belly full of food, which is more than a whole lot of the Chinese people. The real losers are the hard working Chinese athletes who will be under a cloud of suspicion for years.

pedestrian on August 22, 2008 at 7:26 PM

jencab on August 22, 2008 at 4:58 PM

,,, and still find boys yucky.

Mazztek on August 22, 2008 at 7:33 PM

Maybe we already know enough?

Redhead Infidel on August 22, 2008 at 7:14 PM

Need to give that one the benefit of the doubt. Which is not to say he doesn’t deserve to be challenged for his opinions. But the slurs were undeserved. Chudi doesn’t post very often, but he has been posting for a long, long time. And I have a good memory.

RushBaby on August 22, 2008 at 7:49 PM

And I have a good memory.

RushBaby on August 22, 2008 at 7:49 PM

Well, that’s a lie. But I like Chudi. :)

RushBaby on August 22, 2008 at 7:49 PM

The whole Olympic boxing fiasco just went nuclear…

TheBigOldDog on August 22, 2008 at 7:53 PM

I watched about 20 minutes of boxing today and nearly threw the remote at the TV.

BadgerHawk on August 22, 2008 at 8:22 PM

And I thought the gymnastics judging was F’d up.

BadgerHawk on August 22, 2008 at 8:22 PM

But the slurs were undeserved.
RushBaby on August 22, 2008 at 7:49 PM

He was telling Americans to stop crying, and I called him a xenophobe, which obviously didn’t fit since he was making an argument in favor of the Chinese.

Come on Rush, it was a pretty obvious joke.

BadgerHawk on August 22, 2008 at 8:24 PM

If they took steroids or something, then i have a problem with it, but I don’t know how this made the US team to be falling all over the place, and stepping out of bounds. This is just too much. This girl worked really hard for her medals, and it shouldn’t be taken away, cus the US girls got their ‘feelings hurt’.

Chudi on August 22, 2008 at 4:42 PM

Sally Jenkins writes in today’s Washington Post:

Four years ago the USA’s best gymnast was young Nastia Liukin, but because she did not turn 16 in the 2004 calendar year, she was ineligible for the Athens Games.

Why should we reward cheaters with Olympic medals when other athletes have followed the rules and given up their chance to compete?

Scrutineer on August 22, 2008 at 8:29 PM

He was telling Americans to stop crying, and I called him a xenophobe, which obviously didn’t fit since he was making an argument in favor of the Chinese.

Come on Rush, it was a pretty obvious joke.

BadgerHawk on August 22, 2008 at 8:24 PM

I see your point. My apologies, sir.

RushBaby on August 22, 2008 at 8:34 PM

BS. On a level playing field, this so-called 14 yr old beat older US gymnasts. I would be hiding my head in shame if I were the US team, instead of whining.

Chudi on August 22, 2008 at 4:40 PM

Try substituting doping instead of age… “this so-called doped-up athlete beat clean US athletes. I would be hiding my head in shame if I were the US team”

You do realize that being younger, generally makes you more flexible, which is a strong advantage in gymnastics. All things being equal, a 14-year old girl has a strong advantage over a 16-year old girl.

dominigan on August 22, 2008 at 8:44 PM

Chudi on August 22, 2008 at 4:42 PM

Sorry, late to the thread. I don’t believe the girls are complaining, as a matter of fact I read a quote saying that they knew there were mistakes and thought the team overall rankings were fair. As far as an “advantage” I think it may be a draw. Younger girls are lighter and more limber but older girls have more experienced but fact is that the rules are the rules. If you suspend them for this then where else. Thanks for you contributions, the appearance of sour grapes is a valid concern, even if it does not apply to the girls on the team.

Cindy Munford on August 22, 2008 at 8:55 PM

Many have stated that it is not the fault of the girls, but of the ChiComs. I disagree: both are at fault. This He was asked by a reporter what she did on her 15th birthday and said she spent it with her team. If it comes out that she is not 16. which the evidence strongly suggests she is not, then she has implicated herself in the coverup. I know she was pressed into doing it by the ChiComs and all that, but she is part of the deception. Her medal should be stripped from her and she, and all others found to be underage, should be barred from competing in any further Olympics.

As an educator, if I caught any of my students cheating on an exam, they’d get the boot right out of school.

This reminds me of the East German women swimmers of yesteryear, the ones that looked like NLF linebackers complete with mustaches and 5 o’clock shadows, that the East Germans swore took no steroids.

Remember, when you are dealing with dictatorships, communistic or otherwise, the rule of law and respect for the rule of law does not exist in daily life. What exists is the rule of win-at-any-cost and the rule of what-we-say-goes-until-we-say-otherwise. That does not mean that countries that respect the rule of law do not have incidents of cheating in the Olympics or other international venues. What it does mean is that these incidents are not supported or condoned or orchestrated by the state. What we have here is state sponsored cheating to make China look good. I would expect no less from the Chicoms or any other dictatorship. What surprises me is: a) the fact that many folks are surprised at their behavior; b) many more try to explain it away; and c) that the Chinese were so bad at covering there tracks. They really need to reread 1984.

Bubba Redneck on August 22, 2008 at 9:02 PM

I see your point. My apologies, sir.

RushBaby on August 22, 2008 at 8:34 PM

Respectfully accepted. Have a good night.

BadgerHawk on August 22, 2008 at 9:44 PM

Those in positions of “great” power often forget about the tiny mosquitoes until they get bit.

Wildcatter1980 on August 22, 2008 at 9:47 PM

Don’t worry everybody. Jim Caple of ESPN is here to remind us that even though the Chinese cheated, Americans are just as bad. Oh right, this is the same network that gave us the infamous, deplorable Keith Olbermann!

KGB on August 22, 2008 at 10:57 PM

I can tell you who is not underage (because if she is I am going to jail for a long time): Alicia Sacramone

Squid Shark on August 22, 2008 at 11:26 PM

I don’t know if it has been mentioned here or not, but the IOC will investigate, but they will find nothing. Not necessarily because there is nothing to find, but because the IOC does not, and will not have the intestinal fortitude to call out a large country.

If it were the USA, they’d strip the medals, but they won’t strip Chinese medals in this case. In the US, if an athlete cheats, then usually it is an individual who cheats. In China in this case, if they find wrongdoing, then it lies squarely on the government. The passport was issued by the government. The websites are the government’s. The protestations are the government’s. Is the IOC willing to call an entire country out?

I bet the IOC will quietly drop this.

p40tiger on August 23, 2008 at 12:02 AM

China’s whole gymnastics team should have its medals stripped. He might deserve her gold, but rules are rules and China cheated, just like they probably cheated in every other event.

The greatest thing about this scandal is it calls into question every medal China’s won in this Olympics.

amkun on August 23, 2008 at 12:27 AM

They stripped Jim Thorpe’s decathlon gold medal from him because he played semipro baseball at one time.

Screw the Chinese. Strip the medals. Ban them from 2012 gymnastics competition.

fossten on August 22, 2008 at 7:10 PM

Bingo. Which is why we – and the rest of the world – need to shame the Chinese, mercilessly. No matter *what* the IOC “decides”.

We also need to DEMAND that EITHER (1) they yank the medal away from this embryo and her underage companions, I might add, OR – if they cannot accomplish that – that they MUST (2) remove age as a criterion in all future Olympic gymnastic events. Due to their failure to accomplish (1).

And then, we should not accept ANY response from the IOC that does not accomplish at least one of the two options.

It’s their move. If they can’t get the Chinese to bend, then they need to remove the rule altogether, because they will have effectively conceded that they can’t even ensure their own, *vital* rule (one that determines winners & losers, not some mere academic pointilla) will be followed, or that those who follow the rule will be protected.

And the rest of the world needs to shame, shame, SHAME the Chinese. Make it clear that this move by the PRC government brings shame to the entire Chinese people, not just the PRC regime, and that the rest of the world is waiting to hear *something*, from *somebody* (Taiwan? Expats???), about the issue. Something assuring the rest of us that this kind of behavior is not considered honorable by Chinese, *not* representative of China, and that the PRC government represents neither the Chinese people nor their national ethos (& multi-thousand-year history, …).

I’m no longer so quick to buy the explanation at face value that all of this is simply an artifact of *mainland* China, or simply because they have an authoritarian regime, etc. etc.

I’m done “understanding the situation” without even a modicum of skepticism directed toward the larger Chinese community; done with the compartmentalization of the shame of this outrage to a few bad apples, simply for the benefit of protecting others’ feelings. When do we begin to question, quiz, and compel Chinese expats around the world, their American business partners, and the rest of the global entourage, to go on the record as to what *they* make of all this?

RD on August 23, 2008 at 12:31 AM

And the word needs to go out *now* that the Chinese people are shamed, no matter what the IOC decides.

The burden to undo the shame is China’s alone.

RD on August 23, 2008 at 12:35 AM

BTW, I’ve figured out why the Chinese felt their little cuties were eligible: they obviously have a different way of figuring out the girls’ eligibility than the rest of the world does.

They must take the girl’s birth year, use the Chinese calendar to find her designated animal, and then use the corresponding *animal years* to figure out when the little tyke becomes eligible. So, for a precious pumpkin born in the Year of the Dog, she’s eligible as soon as she’s 16 dog years old (that’s about 3 years and two months, for all you human-year-obsessed judgmentalists out there).

See, it’s no *wonder* the Chinese Olympic team took umbrage at our accusations. They’re upset that we’ve misplaced our Chinese calendars!

RD on August 23, 2008 at 12:56 AM

Don’t worry everybody. Jim Caple of ESPN is here to remind us that even though the Chinese cheated, Americans are just as bad. Oh right, this is the same network that gave us the infamous, deplorable Keith Olbermann!

KGB on August 22, 2008 at 10:57 PM

not sure why he’s complaining about the speedo swimsuits speedo gave ALL the teams the same swimsuits(or offered to give them suits if they wanted them, Australia, France, even China was wearing the same suits.. where is the problem?) Also, in like the butterfly they aren’t wearing suits.. so whats the excuse?

Chakra Hammer on August 23, 2008 at 4:54 AM

The greatest thing about this scandal is it calls into question every medal China’s won in this Olympics.

amkun on August 23, 2008 at 12:27 AM

If they are going to openly cheat with ages like this how many of their athletes are doping?

Chakra Hammer on August 23, 2008 at 4:56 AM

Anyone see that Chinese .jr’s Weightlifter?

they said that he was only 17 years old.(IF he really is only 17) wonder if they gave him a pee or blood test .. lol

Chakra Hammer on August 23, 2008 at 4:58 AM

Why was China so sloppy about hiding the evidence? Not only did Walker find the spreadsheets on a government website, but until recently reports of the actual ages of the gymnasts were available on Chinese state news pages. They spent years planning a mind-blowing opening ceremony to impress the world, yet no one thought to devote five minutes to scrubbing the ‘Net of evidence of their grand fraud in the actual competition?

Easy. You get sloppy when you think you have control over all aspects of your population’s browsing habits. They aren’t used to people investigating them.

James on August 23, 2008 at 1:22 PM

Easy. You get sloppy when you think you have control over all aspects of your population’s browsing habits. They aren’t used to people investigating them.

James on August 23, 2008 at 1:22 PM

Very believable scenario. The government hacks just got complacent in an environment where they could squelch dissent and control information.

dedalus on August 23, 2008 at 1:42 PM

What’s the big deal?

I mean, if they can make 8 year olds build bicycles and force people into slave labor, why can’t they let 13 year olds become Olympians?

TheSitRep on August 23, 2008 at 2:59 PM

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