The He Kexin Age Debate Continues

Wow. Here is an article written in which it is stated that He Kexin in fourteen years old. Please check it out here. Now please keep in mind that this article also says that Nastia Liukin is a three time balance beam world champion (only two, 2005 and 2007) but it is quite interesting to see this.

My new thought about the age falsification is how it is unfair to the age eligible athletes on the team. What if this becomes a huge controversy and suddenly ALL the Chinese are banned from competing. All hypothetical, but it would be awful if suddenly Cheng Fei would be punished from being able to make history on vault and win Olympic medals.

Like I said, I think that the age rule is rotten. The best should be allowed to compete regardless of age, and the rule is unfair when you are not allowed to enforce it amongst everybody.

Who knows. Maybe this will become the “scandal” of the year with gymnastics. Let’s see:

2004- Paul Hamm/Yang Tae Young controversy over the AA gold. And let’s not forget the Men’s high bar where the insane crowd protest actually caused Alexei Nemov‘s score to be changed. Not to mention other scores that experts claimed wrong.

2000- Women’s AA vault set at the wrong height.  EDIT- Duh.  Andreea Raducan‘s gold medal being stripped.

1996- Crowd control? The fact that the cheering for the Americans was so loud Roza Galieva was unable to hear her FX music…TWICE. I am unfamiliar with anything that may have happened on the men’s side.

1992- ? Tatiana Gutsu being put into the place of Galieva? I am not sure if that meets the criteria.

So what will the controversy of 2008 be?



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38 responses to “The He Kexin Age Debate Continues

  1. gymfan

    As for scandals from the previous Olympic Games, don’t forget Andreea Raducan being stripped of the AA gold medal because of a cold pill in 2000.

    As for the age thing… The way I see it, some rules are made to be broken, and this one is absolutely one of them. If He Kexin is really 14 (or 15), that’s just fine with me, as long as the Chinese manage not to get themselves into trouble for it. It isn’t fair that young gymnasts from other countries cannot compete, but that should be fixed by getting rid of the age rule, and not by not allowing He Kexin to compete.

  2. gymnastics08

    In 92 Gutsu being in the AA and the Soviet Union lying about an injury is trumped by the blatant over scoring of Gutsu and the underscoring of Miller on vault and bars.

  3. Charlotte

    ok can someone help me out with this? if He Kexin would be pulled or whatever it is that could happen to her for being under age who would be the ones to do that the IOC or the FIG?

  4. audgator

    Good question!

  5. gymfan

    I don’t think this has anything to do with the IOC. The age rule is a FIG rule, not an IOC rule.

    In any case, as long as the Chinese are 100% consistent about the birth date that they submit for He Kexin to all international competitions, there’s nothing anyone can prove. Sure, the Americans (or someone else) could complain, demand an investigation, but that would be bad PR for the federation filing the complaint, especially(!) if they do it after He Kexin wins an Olympic medal (provided she does it at all, of course).

    I think they should just get rid of the age limit. If individual federations want to implement their own age limits, that should be up to them (not that anything of the sort would be terribly likely to happen).

  6. ihatecheaters

    I agree there shouldn’t be an age requirement of 16, but if the rule is in place, it should be followed by everyone.

    Not agreeing with a rule or a law means you should work to CHANGE the rule, not just NOT FOLLOW IT. It’s unfair to the teams who DO follow the age rules.

    How you guys can think that it’s NOT cheating is unbelievable.

  7. gymfan

    I just don’t think that people have a moral obligation to follow bad rules. I understand that not everyone feels that way, but that’s just the way I feel. This rule represents age discrimination, pure and simple. If the rule were somewhat reasonable (say, no girls younger than 14), I might feel differently. As it is, I feel that it unjustly prevents young gymnasts, some at their peak, from competing. Those girls who can avoid the rule have my blessing to do so. I’m not saying this isn’t cheating, I’m just saying that, in some situations, cheating is justified. Again I understand not everyone feels that way.

    A thing to consider (and I am NOT saying this is the same, so don’t accuse me of saying that) is that helping slaves escape used to be very much against the rules. So was hiding Jews in Nazi Germany. (And of course, escaping as a slave or hiding as Jew was also against the rules.) Etc. etc. The moral thing to do under those circumstances was to break the rules as best as one could. Again, I am NOT saying this is the same. But maybe, in view of some extreme examples, you’ll see where I’m coming from.

    (Of course, this in no way implies that people shouldn’t work to change bad rules. But not following bad rules and working to change those same rules are not mutually exclusive.)

  8. audgator

    Wow Gymfan. That was nice. I totally see what you are saying.

    I am hoping that enough will break the rule and FIG will remove the age rule.

  9. gymfan, i agree with you 100. talent is talent, she is one of the best bar workers ive ever seen, EVER, more than khorkina in my opinion, she is so light and flexible, and the layout release is SICK.

    im an american, and im a huge fan of good gymnastics. PERIOD

    he kexin for gold in beijing!!

    (one and a half pirouette to a full in dimount) SICK

  10. audgator

    I completely agree. He Kexin to me is the most innovative person since Kim Gwang-Suk or Mo Huilan. Amazing!

  11. stopcheating

    Ignoring the age limit increases the pool of available athletes to choose from. How is it justifiable that only one team can do this? As for the age limit being a bad rule, have you read Alexandra Marinescu’s book?

  12. drusha

    stop cheating people. The age rule is a FABULOUS thing, in fact I support increasing the age even further. In one breath people want to complain about pushing kids so young, abuse etc…well WHY do you THINK the age LIMIT was put into place. Besides she may throw good skills, but she cant even kip up right and her form is not great. That comes with AGE
    Kick her out!

  13. Becky

    I think if she’s too young to compete, then she, and her other teammate whose age has come into question, should not be allowed. That rule was put into place after the Atlanta Olympics. I think it mainly revolved around Dominique Moceanu. I don’t think that girls that age should be allowed to compete. FIG also will be putting a rule into affect that a girl who is 15 can no longer move up to senior level the year before an Olympics. They have rules for a reason, not all rules should be broken. I think it’s sad that the Chinese want to cheat. I can understand they don’t want to look like losers in front of their country, but cheating is not the way to go. I think it’s unfair to the Americans and other countries who are following the rules. If they are cheating by using someone too young, just because they’re good, isn’t fair to everyone playing by the rules. I hope the American women kick the Chinese’s butts, that way even though the Chinese are cheating, the team follwing the rules still prevails. I am not a big Nastia fan, but I hope that she nails her bars routine and wins the indvidual gold. She’s still struggling with that routine, even at the training camp, so I hope she can get it together for the Olympics. Obviously China has something to hide, since they have pulled down websites and message boards discussing the fact the she is only 14. With it being a communist country, even Bela has said, it is easy for them to falisfy documents. The 2000 Olympics one of the Chinese women later revealed she was indeed only 14 at the games. Gymnastics isn’t the only sport they have done this in as well. They have lied about the ages of divers as well. Diving and Gymnastics being two of their top sports. Sorry to all who disagree but you should cheat to win, and yes this is cheating.

  14. Becky

    I meant to say “but you shouldn’t cheat to win.”

  15. j

    I can not believe anyone can equate hiding Jews in Nazi Germany or helping SLAVES escape to falsifying an age in gymnastics. There is a difference between a morally wrong rule and one that YOU just don’t like. No one has a moral obligation to CHEAT in athletic competition. You people are unbelievable.

  16. Kim

    Gymfan, you are ridiculous. Your analogy is soooo ridiculous I won’t even address it.

    It is nice YOU feel no moral obligation to follow rules you don’t agree with but thankfully most people don’t follow your skewed logic. I hope HR buys that excuse when decide to break rules in the office “you don’t agree with”. Explain that to the gal next to you in the unemployment line. Try using that explanation when you are in lockdown at the airport for trying to smuggle in your scissors. Geez, you are just silly…what are you 12 and didn’t get to compete for a spot on the team?

    Here is why it is of disgust to the average viewer of the sport when a team like China allegedly cheats..(and that is what it is…cheating) Other countries and gymnasts follow the rules and they should be competing on an even playing field. China is a large country and within that vast population they should be able to put together a team of 6 girls who can compete legitimately and competitively at these games and other championships. They are more than 40 times larger/population than some of these other countries who manage to put together a competitive team of 6 girls.

    Rules are in place for a reason, at times they need to change. Lobby for change but don’t arrogantly break them…or use skewed logic to justify the breaking of the rules.

    The bigger shame, Gymfan, that you don’t get that.

  17. anonymous

    FIG did put the rule in place to prevent abuse, but has it really stopped China (and other teams as well) from abusing their athletes? No, not really….

  18. Meritocrat

    The Olympics are supposed to see the best athletes in the world compete against each other. Imposing age limits is unfair – especially on those who are only just too young for one olympics, get a single chance at 19, and are past their peak at 23 vs another gymnast born a month earlier who competes as 16 and 20 years old. This is also a problem in Olympic soccer, albeit they only allow 3 players over 23 per team I believe – ageist at the other end. Just stupid. Medical grounds aside (eg weightlifting, where bodies can’t handle it before bones and joints firm up), let the best compete!

  19. me

    so..when was this age limit suddenly enforced? why? and is it enforced for gymnasts of all countries? is it just for women?

  20. audgator

    After the 1996 Games the age limit for female gymnasts was you had to be turning 16 in the year of the Games. this is also for senior international competition. However, the World Championships previous to the Olympics, you may compete underage given you will be 16 during the Olympic year. This is in place as the Worlds serves as a qualifier into the Olympics.

    Prior to 1996, the age was 15. Before that, I believe it was 14. I may be wrong there.

    Next year I believe they are raising the age where you HAVE to be 16. So I don’t know what this means to the smaller countries trying to qualify single athletes. It also sucks that you can’t have international experience.

  21. bob

    fuck china and their inability to follow simple rules!

  22. DE

    The fairness of the age rule is irrelevant for the current Olympics. If people feel so strongly that it should be changed, then they should lobby for the change to happen in the future.

    But right now there is a rule, and apparently every country except China is following it.

    The real story here is that a country can be so untrustworthy they’d force a 13- or 14-year-old girl to lie about her age so they can include her on an Olympic squad. It’s not fair to the other competitors, it’s not fair to the viewers, and it’s most definitely not fair to the girl.

    It’s especially messed up that adults would force a girl that young to lie about her age for some misguided attempt at obtaining national prestige through one lousy competition in an entire Olympics. After these games are over, very few people outside of the gymnastics community are going to remember or care.

    Of course, there have been other reports of Chinese duplicity in these games, from athletic competition to the ceremonies, to basic Internet access and freedom of information among visitors. It’s a sad joke that the games were allowed to be held there in the first place.

  23. Renegade

    Can y’all not get a grip on the fact that the age rule is there to keep it fair to all. Plus not getting the younger kids hurt and let them mature. If they are going to allow anyone under 16 then there needs to be age groups set up. If you are 19 and weigh 110 lbs, do you want to compete against someone the is 60 lbs? Guess which can fly better! And besides, until the rule is changed it is still illegal!

  24. 3D

    Everyone should have to be accountable to the rules. If consensus says the rule should change – then change it. The rules are the boundaries of what is legal and fair for competition. A good competitive strategy is built on knowing the rules and adhering to them. When a team breaks a rule to build their competitive strategy, they have an unfair advantage. The IOC and other ruling parties need to be vocal and clearly articulate that they investigate this matter fully so it does not spoil the spirit of future Olympic competition and their ability to be the definitive governing body.

  25. elaine

    He definitely looks younger than 16 years, if she is 15+ now and the world’s best, and at the peak of her career, she will be 19+ for the next Olympic,by then she may be at the end of her career. for gymnasts 4 years is far too long. Coming to age is not to their advantage. Personally I think fairness is an important factor in every competition. May be there should be other opportunities for countries to show case their best gymnasts more often

  26. carol

    I don’t think it is fair to accuse He being underage. The Chinese newpaper source being quoted (the earliest source i found), actually corrected the mistake three days later, before this whole age thing emerged. But looks, I really thought Shawn Johnson was underage too. I mean, come on, Shawn looks just as cute as a tween. I don’t think China needs to cheat. They have millions of gymnasts from their talent pool. Why would they need to go through this stink? If China finds soem ridiculous source saying Shawn Johnson is underage and ask her to go through bon check, what would ppl think? the States is the king of cheating. remember the whole massive destruction weapon in Iraq thing?

  27. Meritocrat

    I’ve learned not to place too much faith in my eyes when trying to work out the age of asians.
    I have a chinese friend who is still, up to this year, often asked for proof of age when buying alcohol. Here you only need to be 18 to buy it, and she is 36 already!

    A more natural and leaner diet also tends to avoid the early puberty that’s pretty much the norm now in more obesity ridden countries where processed foods are more prevalent. Looking at He Kexin, I’d think she’s more likely to be a year or two under 16 rather than over it, but I wouldn’t stake my life’s savings on it…and I wouldn’t let it stop me appreciating an incredible performance from all the competitors, He included.

    As for final standings, it’s like dressage or boxing – mostly in the eye of the beholder, be they couch potato or gymnastics judge. In another 4 or 5 Olympics’ time, when computers can score execution, aesthetics and difficulty, it will probably be fairer (but sadder too perhaps).

  28. Thephonies

    I think GymFan, Audgator and others that support He Kexin are totally morons. However I do agree that He Kexin is an excellent athlete. But folks, let’s be real, if these gymnastics are truly underage, then they should be banned temporarily. It’s a “slap on the face” for all athletes. I believe that when you lie to the people around the world, you are disrespecting us and especially themselves. It’s not about winning a medal or being the best, it’s about how you make the most out of the game.

  29. Jim


    *China: A Nation of Cheaters

  30. Thephonies

    This is in response to carol says:

    “the States is the king of cheating. remember the whole massive destruction weapon in Iraq thing?”

    How is that called cheating? The word cheating means… “To deprive by trickery; defraud” ; “To act dishonestly”; “To violate rules deliberately, as in a game”.. The States didn’t go to Iraq mainly to find mass destruction weapons, but also to stop terrorists and its operation. Sadaam Hussein wasn’t a super nice leader. He killed thousands of innocent people to experiment biochemical substances. True, we couldn’t find the weapons as of yet, but we did bring him to justice for those innocents that were killed.

    You know why China is going through this stink? It’s because they are too proud of themselves. They want everyone to know that they are superior to other countries.

  31. my2cents

    I agree with Carol. China does not need to cheat in this case. It has a massive talent pool to choose their contestants. These girls were selected and started training more than five years ago before the 08 Beijing Game. There is a video that shows how these girls were selected, trained and most of them were eliminated in the end sadly. Actually three of the girls being accused of underage by the US media were featured in this 2003 documentary film. The age they reported in the film during the interviews shows they are over 16 this year. This Chinese made movie mentioned clearly that all girls have to be 16 to compete in the international Olympic games and their their career usualy ends when they are 20. That’s why the selection and training process starts very early in age. I really do not see there is any problem with those girls age unless they were forced to lie as far back as five years ago. That is ridiculous in my opinion. Many Asian women are petite compared with western counter parts. To be selected as an gymnastics, you need to be extra small in size. Is that so hard for people here to understand?

  32. Thephonies

    Okay let’s just say that the Chinese gymnasts are the age of 16 and/or above. What happens IF they were proof that they lie about their age? Should they be banned temporarily? What should the FIG and/or IOC do to China for violating such practices?

  33. Sheri-Lea

    I have to say change the rules don’t break them! Simple as that. She did not earn the right to compete and lieing and cheating should not be rewarded. By that fact alone, she should be stripped of her medals and lose the right to compete at the Olympic level in the future.

  34. Thephonies

    I sort of agree with you Sheri-Lea, but I don’t think we should blame on He Kexin and others. It’s actually the Chinese government or anyone involved with the cover up if they are indeed underage. But that’s my opinion.

  35. Xinogage

    I will agree completely that the Chinese should be punished for cheating, but what I will not agree with is condemning anyone as guilty without proof. Why are people so hasty in believing one source over another? Why are the media reports, from unverified sources, and known to be error prone, more reliable to you than official documents? Have you people looked at the Japanese team? I certainly can’t tell them apart from the Chinese girls.

  36. Mystique

    All of your comments are based on sole speculation right now! Do you have any proof that she’s under 16? If not, please stop calling her or calling China cheaters or liars. All of you are liars too if you accuse someone of doing something without solid evidence.
    I think comments that state “IF china cheats, then this or that should happen” is acceptable. Comments that affirms China cheats without proof are pure lies. If you are going to court with only speculation as your evidence, then good luck, you are going to lose! So I say, for now just suck it up and live with the fact that Americans are not No. 1 anymore in Olympics. For you americans that have too much time surfing the internet and writing posts on these websites, please do me a favor, spend more time think about how to prevent your house being foreclosed.

  37. Thephonies

    In response to Xinogage:

    I’m not condemning the Chinese government, what I’m saying is that the Chinese government can manipulate passports and birth certificates.

  38. Thephonies

    In response to Mystique:

    I am not putting down on China or say that they are cheaters. I’m saying that IF some or all of the Chinese gymnasts are underage, then what will be the proper solution of handling this. By the way, my house isn’t being foreclosed. I just updated with a beautiful back porch and gazebo. 😛

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