Report questions age of Nets' Yi

BEIJING -- NBA player Yi Jianlian is being investigated by a Chinese-language magazine which claims he is one of many of the country's athletes guilty of lying about their age on official documents.

Yi, who plays for the New Jersey Nets, has long been reported in the Chinese media to be older than his records show. Earlier this month, China's Sports Ministry reported that it found 36 players in China's professional basketball league whose dates of birth may have been changed.

The December issue of the Chinese-language edition of Sports Illustrated said a reporter for the magazine found records from Yi's middle-school registration in his hometown in southern China that said he was born in 1984.

His official basketball records say he was born in 1987. He is also listed by the Nets as being born Oct. 27, 1987.

A spokesman for the Chinese Basketball Association could not be reached Monday for comment.

Yi could be quizzed again about his age on Monday night when the Nets face the Houston Rockets and fellow Chinese star center Yao Ming in New Jersey.

Players' ages are sometimes altered to show them as being younger, mainly to qualify for youth tournaments. Those false ages stay with athletes and can result in embarrassment and sanctions when they move on to greater success.

The opposite practice was alleged in the controversy surrounding China's gold medal-winning women's gymnastics team at the Beijing Olympics, where China entered athletes suspected of being below the minimum age of 16.

The international gymnastics federation eventually cleared the Chinese gymnasts of amending birth records to make athletes appear older than they were. However, it continues to investigate the ages of Chinese gymnasts who competed in the Sydney 2000 Olympics.