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Olympic-size controversy.

At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, female gymnasts He Kexin, Yang Yilin, and Jiang Yuyuan electrified the Chinese with their stellar performances. But even as China celebrated, controversy was brewing over whether or not the athletes met the age requirements for competition established by the International Gymnastics Federation.

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According to the rules governing Olympic gymnastic competition, female gymnasts must be at least 16 years of age to compete. The rule was put in place in 1997 to prevent the exploitation of young children, who can be harmed by the rigors of world-class gymnastic competition and who also have an unfair advantage in weight and flexibility over their slightly older counterparts.

China denies allegations that documents were falsified so that the girls could compete in this year's games. But legendary gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi insists that the Chinese competitors are too young. "These people think we are stupid," Karolyi said. "We are in the business of gymnastics. We know what a kid of 14 or 15 or 16 looks like. What kind of slap in the face is this? They are 12, 14 years old."

Investigators have uncovered what appears to be incriminating evidence. Chinese newspapers and official gymnastic rosters indicating that the girls are too young to compete have been unearthed. Due to these findings, the International Gymnastics Federation has been urged to provide further proof of the athletes' ages, and the investigation is currently underway.
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Title Annotation:Inside Track
Publication:The New American
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Sep 15, 2008
Words:238
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