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Report: IOC wants proof of gymnasts ages

Chinese gymnast He Kexin performs her routine on the uneven bars during the Women's Uneven Bars Final at the National Indoor Stadium, August 18, 2008, at the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. He was tied with American gymnast Nastia Liukin after their performances, and the judges awarded the gold medal to He, the silver to Liukin and China's Yang Yilin won the bronze. (UPI Photo/Mike Theiler)
Chinese gymnast He Kexin performs her routine on the uneven bars during the Women's Uneven Bars Final at the National Indoor Stadium, August 18, 2008, at the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. He was tied with American gymnast Nastia Liukin after their performances, and the judges awarded the gold medal to He, the silver to Liukin and China's Yang Yilin won the bronze. (UPI Photo/Mike Theiler) | License Photo

BEIJING, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- The International Olympic Committee has requested an investigation into reports that China used underage gymnasts during the Games, The New York Times reported.

To compete in the Olympics, a gymnast must have become 16 years old during the year in which the Games are held. The Times said it had unearthed online records indicating that half the Chinese women's team -- He Kexin, Yang Yilin and Jiang Yuyuan -- were underage.

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The newspaper said the IOC had asked the international governing body for the sport of gymnastics to make inquiries of Chinese officials and make a report before the end of the Olympics. The closing ceremonies will be held Sunday.

China won the women's team gymnastics gold medal and He won gold in the uneven bars. Yang won bronze medals in the all-around and the uneven bars.

Chinese officials previously produced passports indicating the gymnasts are of a proper age.

"We had been given some more information and thought that this information was concerning enough to go to the Chinese gymnastic federation have a thorough discussion about it," said IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau.

Famed gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi, who worked as a television commentator during the Olympics, made his views clear during various telecasts.

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"Just look at them," he said. "You can see they are not 16."

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