BEIJING The International Olympic Committee said today it had asked gymnastics officials to investigate whether the Chinese women's gymnastics team that won the gold medal had underage athletes, saying more information has come to light.
We've asked the gymnastics federation to look into it further, IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said. If there is a question mark and we have a concern, which we do, we ask the governing body of any sport to look into it.
It was not immediately clear what new information prompted the IOC to act now, three days after the gymnastics competition ended.
Messages for the International Gymnastics Federation were not immediately returned.
The FIG has said repeatedly that a passport is the accepted proof of a gymnast's eligibility, and that China's gymnasts have presented ones that show they are age eligible. The IOC also checked the girls' passports and deemed them valid.
A gymnast must be 16 in an Olympic year to compete at the games. But questions about the ages of at least three of the athletes have persisted. Online records and media reports suggest three Chinese gymnasts He Kexin, Jiang Yuyuan and Jang Yilin may be as young as 14.
The IOC had said previously that it had verified the passports of all athletes competing at the games.
"We are not in a position to say 'It's good, it's not good.' It's a government document," FIG president Bruno Grandi said earlier this week in an interview with The Associated Press.
The Chinese women won six medals, including the team gold and a gold on uneven bars by He. The media reports include a Nov. 3 story by the Chinese government's news agency, Xinhau that suggest He is only 14. She was asked about her age again after winning the uneven bars title, beating American Nastia Liukin in a tiebreak.
'I was born in 1992 and I'm 16 years old now," He said Monday. "The FIG has proved that. If I'm under 16, I couldn't have been competing here."