The Olympics may be ending, but the controversy surrounding the age of some of the members of the Chinese women’s gymnastics team is not.
After initially declining to investigate the ages of the girls in question — most notably the adorable little He Kexin — the International Olympic Committee has “ordered an investigation into mounting allegations that Chinese authorities covered up the true age of their gold-winning gymnastics star because she was too young to compete.” Much like the UN, the IOC seems loath to offend anyone but the U.S.
The article linked above, published at the UK Times Online, brought on a firestorm of commentary from readers. In the literally hundreds of comments, many were in agreement that if there is any question of the girl’s age, an investigation is warranted. There were also those who thought that even if she were underage, she should still be allowed to keep her medals.
To those who think her being underage — per requirements put into place in 1997 in order to ensure the safety of the athletes — should not be an issue because her performances were so outstanding, I pose this question: why have rules at all for any sport? Rules exist for a reason — to give competing athletes common ground from which to start. There are rules against steroid use, for instance, which no one seems to have a problem with — nor should they. Swimmers, runners, and other competitors are tested for these drugs on a daily basis throughout the competition. Age limits in gymnastics might seem unfair, but unless those rules are challenged and subsequently changed, they should be abided by.
Yet in addition to the comments arguing whether age should matter or not, there were a fair number of those that suggested the only reason this investigation has commenced is that the U.S. team took second place. In other words, American sour grapes. Here’s a sampling (all spelling and syntax from the original):
Americans moaning about cheating……..let us remain you guys because Americans don’t cheat do they…..Marion Jones,
Jerome Young, Kelli White to name just a few.
How come none of you Americans mention these CHEATS ???
You Yanks are just bad losers !
Helen Lambert, Epsom, UK
All americans are liers!
you can fake the age ,but you can’t fake the performance!!!!
cindy , hongkong, CHN
The Yanks can’t even tally the medals table honestly….take a look at CNN and have a laugh at the disgraceful frauds.
The official way to tally the medals table is by Gold then Silver then Bronze, not by total medals won, what a bunch of Losers.
Ian, Newcastle upon Tyne
How ever old someone is, they won their medal by their performance not by old they are. Bela Karolyi coached Nadia Comaneci who was 14 when she won her 1st Olympic Gold in 1976. How come the Americans didn’t complain then. It’s a case of the Americans be bad losers again. They lost. Accept it !!!
Chris Lee, Surrey, UK
Americans always like to criticize the other countries but always ignore themselves. They don’t even know they are the biggest cheater and liar in the world!!
Michael, Kingston, Canada
The US needs to stop crying and whining. Such sore sports, that they feel they need rouge sleuths to bring about justice. If the US were not in a position to benefit, they would not even bother to go so far. This comment is not to support the Chinese if they are in fact cheating.
n, Toronto, Canada
What would the US do to find itself at the top of gold medals…Maybe the Chinese should test Phelps for doping themselves. That might give us a shocker of results.
Andreas Andreou, Cyprus
As I mentioned earlier, swimmers — including Michael Phelps — are tested daily throughout the Games. Thanks for playing, Andreas.
So, following the above logic: if the second-place team had been from Romania, Russia, the UK, or another country, questions about the age of the Chinese gymnasts would have more merit because those countries are not sore losers like the U.S.?
Let me know if I’m missing anything here.