Australian media are reporting today that doubts have been raised about the ages of Chinese medal-winning athletes as long ago as the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.
Age-falsification has become a burning issue since the Beijing Games last month, where it was alleged that Chinese gymnast He Kexin, who won two gold medals, was underage and therefore should have been ineligible to compete in the event.
Rules introduced in 1997 to prevent the exploitation of under-aged gymnasts stipulate that competitors are required to be at least 16-years-old in the year the Olympics are held.
Separate investigators were able to report that they found at least nine articles published in state-run Chinese media in the past 12 months that list He's birth date as January 1 1994, not 1992 as the Chinese authorities now claim.
The International Olympics Committee (IOC) was forced into the awkward position of having to order a probe into the ages of He and four other gymnasts from the Beijing Games whose ages were under scrutiny.
That probe is currently underway.
Today's report in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) says the Google hacker who unearthed a trove of damning evidence about alleged age fakers in China's Olympic gymnastics team has now forced the sport's world governing body to extend its investigations to Chinese team members from as far back as the 2000 Sydney Games.
American hacker Mike Walker - writing under the pseudonym Stryde Hax - was the first to publish details of official documents revealing He Kexin's true age.
Now Walker claims to have unearthed a China Central Television (CCTV) documentary in which Yang Yun - a dual bronze medalist at the Sydney Olympics - refers to herself as being aged 14 at the time of the 2000 Games.
"At that time, I was only 14-years-old," she allegedly tells the interviewer. "I thought, if I didn't do well this time, there is still a next time. I thought, 'there is still hope'."
- NZHERALD STAFF