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Page last updated at 16:30 GMT, Wednesday, 1 October 2008 17:30 UK

Chinese gymnasts cleared over age

He Kexin performs on the uneven bars
He Kexin won two Olympic gold medals

Five Chinese gymnasts suspected of being underage at the Beijing Olympics have been cleared by the International Gymnastic Federation (FIG).

He Kexin - one of the five - won the women's uneven bars, pushing Britain's Beth Tweddle into fourth place.

Gymnasts must turn 16 during the Olympic year to compete.

In a statement, FIG said it regarded the case as "concluded" but insisted it is still looking at the ages of Chinese gymnasts at the 2000 Games in Sydney.

"The FIG does not consider the explanations and evidence provided to date in regards to these athletes as satisfactory," said the statement.

BBC Radio 5 Live's Gordon Farquhar said the FIG must be seen to act over the Sydney Games.

"A spokesman was pretty clear there was a problem, but the FIG has a rule book which says disciplinary issues can only be counted back five years," he told 5 Live Drive. "But there is a feeling that a message has got to be sent."

The investigation into the 2008 team was launched just before the end of the Beijing Olympics on 24 August after suggestions that some of the girls could be 14.

China had always insisted that the girls were old enough to compete.

He Kexin, Yang Yilin, Jiang Yuyuan, Li Shanshan and Deng Linlin were those under investigation and claimed gold medals as part of the Chinese female squad that won the women's team event.

"Originals of official documents received from the Chinese Gymnastics Association, specifically passports, identity cards and family booklets or Household Registers, confirm the ages of the athletes," read the FIG statement.

Farquhar added that though the athletes had been cleared, the ruling would not satisfy some people.

"There are people who won't and don't believe it, but the FIG say that to continue to doubt isn't feasible," he said.

see also
Olympic probe into gymnasts' ages
22 Aug 08 |  Gymnastics
China win first women's team gold
13 Aug 08 |  Gymnastics
China win as Tweddle misses out
18 Aug 08 |  Gymnastics

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