So says one official from China.
His name: Luo Chaoyi, director of the Gymnastics Center of the General Administration of Sport.
AP Sports Columnist John Leicester has a mainstream article getting wide circulation with the general public:
Lies and damned lies: China abandons gymnast who competed under age at Olympics
Does this 14yr-old look like a forger to you?
Here’s the translation from Manderin used in the Leicester article:
… The state-run newspaper China Youth Daily quoted Luo Chaoyi as saying that Dong was eligible in Sydney but then shaved three years off her age after retirement in 2001, and that “this must have been an act by her and her family.”
Such an explanation is barely credible — unless, of course, Dong is a master forger of official documents, which is even less believable. In China, as elsewhere, passports are government-issued. Coaches — and not just in China — have also long falsified ages for girls whose small and supple bodies give them a competitive advantage over larger and older young women. The reverse scenario — that a retired gymnast would pass herself off as a kid — makes no sense.
It also hard to believe Chinese officials didn’t know Dong was underage in 2000. Most of Dong’s childhood was spent within the state-run sports system that churns out medalists for China. Her CV shows she joined a sports school at age 4, a provincial team at 7 and the national team at 10. …
Here’s another perhaps more accurate translation:
… the age of Dong Fangxiao is her personal matter and the fact that Dong’s age had been shifted 3 yrs younger after her retirement was Dong and her family’s personal practice. …
Related: China Media Project – Chinese media tackle the national sports system
There’s not the slightest doubt that Dong was underage. Her personal resume today says she was born Jan. 23, 1986 making her two years below the minimum age requirement of 16 at Sydney.
The FIG is hoping for an April IOC decision on the Olympic 2000 medals.
… One worrisome new fact. She’s apparently returned to China for a visit. I’m slightly worried for her safety.