The C Score (2.0)

Posts Tagged ‘Chinese age scandal

Bela Karolyi was in Chicago today to promote the American Cup, which will be held there in March 2009. There is a lot of good information coming out of these articles.

Bela at his ranch

Bela at his ranch

The Chinese age scandal

What, you thought it was going to go away?

Karolyi is still talking about the Chinese age scandal. He thinks the 2000 Olympics inquiry was perfunctory and is not convincing in the slightest:

“I think that’s just a cover-up. They’re trying to hold onto their reputation on this issue, when it’s one of the most blatant things we’ve ever seen.”

Karolyi says that he complained about the age question back in Sydney, saying that he pointed out that one of the girls (I assume Dong Fangxiao, but it could have been Yang Yun) had been a junior the year before and that it was impossible that she could have aged two years in one year. (He makes a good point.)

Interestingly, Karolyi was backed up by Steve Penny of USA Gymnastics more than usual. He said “Bela makes a good point when he says the Chinese kids went out there and did a good job. But there’s a rule that says you’ve got to be 16.”

My favorite part is where he added: “Here’s Rebecca Bross, two months short of being able to compete, sitting, crying in front of her TV, watching kids younger than her compete.” Really? Rebecca Bross was CRYING in front of her television?

It’s official: Marta’s staying

Bela confirms that Marta will be around at least through 2012. Interestingly, Penny says that the Karolyis (both of them) are “USA Gymnastics’ long-term plan.” Everyone loves the program (that Bela created, and that they hated at the time … no, I’m not bitter).

Bela then mentioned Kim Zmeskal as a possible successor!

Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson, Samantha Peszek continuing

Apparently Liukin was briefly at the trainign camp that just started, and told Bela she would continue competing.

Bela also said that while we lost all of our athletes after the 2004 cycle, at least Liukin, Johnson and Peszek will continue.

A little clue on Bela’s favorites?

When asked who the next big thing was, Bela answered Rebecca Bross and Jordyn Wieber. He called Wieber a “diamond” and compared her to Shawn Johnson (directly, and also by mentioning her ability to stay on the beam!).

And: one last (boring) article.

According to this AP article, the FIG has decided to expand its investigation of Chinese gymnasts’ age to the 2000 team, which means big trouble for the Chinese.

Recall that Yang Yun admitted last year that she was 14 at the Sydney Olympics.

It’s slow reaction time, but they are saying that information from before the Games has led them to this decision:

“If we had a look at all the articles that came before, during and after the games, there were always rumors about the ages of China’s athletes in Sydney,” Andre Gueisbuhler, secretary general of the International Gymnastics Federation, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

“We did not have another choice,” he said. “If we want to remain credible, then we have to look into things.”

Here is the story where Yang Yun admits to being 14.

ETA: There are really three parts of this story to comment on, and I think it’s important to keep them separate.

The first is whether the FIG should be further investigating this matter.  Although a number of pieces of evidence point to falsification, China has supplied the FIG with proof of age as required by the organization’s bylaws.  If China were not a notoriously secretive autocracy, it is less likely that we would be having this conversation, which begs the question of whether it is within the tradition of international sport and the Olympic Games to essentially suggest that the word of a national government is not sufficient.

Second, if it is decided that the Chinese ages were in fact falsified, we must consider what actions — and sanctions, if any — are appropriate.

Finally, this issue returns us to the question of whether there should be an age limit for senior elite international competition — and therefore participation in the Olympic games.  As can be seen from the reactions of the likes of Bela Karolyi on this one, believing that the Chinese should be sanctioned for falsification does not necessarily imply agreement with the policy.

So, those are the three things to consider.  What do you think?  I’ll give my perspective in coming posts.


About The C Score

First there was A score and B score, now D score and E score. Where is the C score? Right here. In the form of my random thoughts about women's artistic gymnastics.

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