23 Dec 2008

More doubts over Chinese player's age

6:00 am on 23 December 2008

A media report carrying school photographs and an identification card has raised doubts about Chinese NBA player Yi Jianlian's age, less than two weeks after 26 local players were found to have falsified birth dates.

The New Jersey Nets forward Yi, China's fourth NBA player, is officially 21, but there was suspicion about his age before he was picked sixth by Milwaukee Bucks in the 2007 NBA draft.

Yi has consistently refused to answer questions about his age. but the Chinese website of Sports Illustrated magazine says his high school identity card has a birth date Octover 27, 1984 -- three years older than the NBA player's official birth date.

Suspicion of age fraud has long been a hallmark of China's state-run sports system, where city and provincial teams have been accused of fielding overage players to win tournaments in order to secure government funding.