North Korea appeals suspension

Updated: October 13, 2010, 11:14 AM ET
Associated Press

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- North Korea's gymnastics federation has appealed the ban on its team because one member falsified her age.

The North Korean team and Hong Su Jong were banned for 30 days last week because Hong entered the world championships in Rotterdam using the third different birth date of her career.

The International Gymnastics Federation said Wednesday its appeal tribunal will rule within the required five-day limit after the challenge was filed on Monday. FIG spokesman Philippe Silacci said North Korea is still banned from competition while the appeal is heard.

The world championships begin Saturday with women's qualifying. North Korea is in the first subdivision of qualifying Sunday. If the appeal is dismissed by FIG, North Korea can make a final challenge at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Hong listed her birth year as 1989, though FIG documents show that she competed at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2006 worlds using a birth year of 1985. She won the silver medal on vault at the 2007 worlds listing 1986 as her birth year.

If Hong was born in 1989, she would have been ineligible to compete in Athens. Gymnasts must turn at least 16 in the calendar year of an Olympics to be eligible.

Age falsification has been a problem in gymnastics since the 1980s, when the minimum age was raised from 14 to 15 to help protect still-developing athletes from serious injuries. The minimum age has been 16 since 1997.

The FIG requires all gymnasts who represent their countries at most international meets to have a license that proves their age for their entire career.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press