ISU: No discrepancies for Olympic silver medalists

Updated: February 17, 2011, 11:27 AM ET
Associated Press

International skating officials found no discrepancies in the birthdates of three Chinese figure skaters, including 2006 Olympic pairs silver medalists Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao, after questions were raised about their eligibility.

The birthdates listed on the Chinese Olympic Committee's website for the Zhangs and female singles skater Xu Binshu match what the International Skating Union has, spokeswoman Selina Vanier said Thursday. Skaters fill out registration forms before competing at international events, and the ISU checks that information against their passports.

Reigning junior world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong and three other skaters whose eligibility was questioned were not listed on the official Chinese Olympic Committee site, Vanier said.

"The ISU is gathering information on this matter and will not comment any further until all the details are received," Vanier said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

A list of birthdates published on the Chinese skating federation's website and found by the AP indicated that the Zhangs, Sui and Han and at least four other skaters violated the sport's age limits by competing when they were either too young or too old. The birthdates on the federation's websites differed from those listed on the athletes' ISU bios.

The Chinese Skating Association said the skaters were eligible, blaming poor record keeping for the discrepancies. The list of birthdates posted on the Chinese association's website had disappeared by Tuesday.

ISU rules require skaters to be 15 by the preceding July 1 to compete at an Olympics or senior world championships, and 14 for other senior-level international competitions. Junior skaters must be at least 13 the previous July 1 but cannot have turned 19 (singles) or 21 (pairs and ice dancers).

According to the records found by the AP on the federation website, Zhang Dan was born Oct. 4, 1987, meaning she would have been only 14 when she and Zhang Hao -- no relation -- competed at the 2002 Olympics and world championships. The Zhangs were 11th in Salt Lake City and ninth at worlds.

But the ISU said Zhang Dan's birthdate on the Olympic Committee website was listed as Oct. 4, 1985, the same as on her ISU bio.

The questions about the skaters' ages arose less than a year after the IOC stripped China of its 2000 Olympic bronze medal in women's team gymnastics for using an underage girl. That violation was uncovered during an investigation into age fraud by China's team that won the gold medal at the Beijing Games. The 2008 team later was cleared after Chinese officials provided original passports, ID cards and family registers showing all the gymnasts were old enough to compete.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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