Better Coverups, Please

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China’s women’s gymnastics team in the 2000 Olympics has been stripped of its bronze medal after an investigation revealed that Dong Fangxiao was 14 years old at the time, not 16 as international rules require. How did our intrepid investigators figure this out? Like so:

Dong worked as a national technical official for the Beijing Olympics. Her accreditation information listed her birthday as Jan. 23, 1986, which would have made her 14 in Sydney. Also, Dong’s blog said she was born in the Year of the Ox in the Chinese zodiac (Feb. 20, 1985, to Feb. 8, 1986).

Obviously China’s athletic authorities are accustomed to pretty lackadaisical standards in the cover-up arena. Subtlety and thoroughness probably aren’t especially urgent in authoritarian states, after all. But if they’re going to compete with the West, they need to lift their game. Better coverups, please.

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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