Investigation: Chinese gymnast underage in 2000

China should be stripped of its bronze medal from the 2000 Olympics because one member of the squad has been found to be underage, international gymnastics officials said Friday.

Dong Fangxiao was 14 during the Sydney Games, according to FIG, the international gymnastics federation. Gymnasts must be 16 during the Olympic year to compete.

Another gymnast on the 2000 squad, Yang Yun, also was suspected of being underage after she mentioned on a television interview that she was 14 in Sydney. But all of her official documentation indicated she was 16 in Sydney.

The FIG has "canceled" all of Dong's results from Sydney, and forwarded the results of its investigation to the International Olympic Committee. Because the case involves the Olympics, it is up to the IOC to decide if China should lose any medals.

The IOC has said previously it would take "necessary measures" if any gymnasts were found to be underage. The U.S. team was fourth in that event at the Sydney Games.

Questions about the eligibility of Dong and Yang for Sydney arose during the FIG's investigation into the eligibility of members of China's team that won the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The 2008 gymnasts were eventually cleared, but the FIG said it wasn't satisfied with "the explanations and evidence provided to date" for Dong and Yang.

"We can confirm that we have received the ruling from the FIG in the case concerning Dong Fangxiao and Yang Yun, and we take due note of their decision," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "Clearly, we need to take time to consider the findings before the Executive Board can consider the matter. We would like to thank the FIG for their work and we would refer further inquiries to them."

The FIG also wiped out Dong's results from the 1999 world championships, and it is making China pay the costs of the 16-month investigation "for not having adequately controlled the birth dates of the gymnasts." The FIG also issued a warning to Yang, who will be allowed to keep her bronze medal on the uneven bars.

Dong's accreditation information for the Beijing Olympics, where she worked as a national technical official, listed her birthday as Jan. 23, 1986. That would have made her 14 in Sydney - too young to compete. Her birth date in the FIG database had been listed as Jan. 20, 1983.

Dong's blog also says she was born in the Year of the Ox in the Chinese zodiac, which dated from Feb. 20, 1985, to Feb. 8, 1986. Dong has not denied that, but she refused to answer any questions about her age, telling The Associated Press, "I've left the gymnastics team."

Yang said in a June 2007 interview that aired on state broadcaster China Central Television that she was 14 in Sydney. She later told the AP that she had misspoken, declining further comment.

The FIG's three-person disciplinary commission spent 16 months investigating the cases of Dong and Yang. Besides providing documentation, Dong and Yang, along with their parents and two Chinese gymnastics officials, met with the commission for two days in December in Lausanne, Switzerland.