By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

September 12 - Bolivia's boys football team that won the gold medals at the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore last month contained up to five players that were over-aged, it has been alleged.

The South Americans beat Haiti 5-0 in the final at the Jalan Besar Stadium but it has now been reported in Bolivia that several of the team were aged between 16 and 19 in a tournament where world governing body FIFA had ruled that the players should be aged under-15.

The claim was first made by Arturo Garcia, chairman of the Coaches Association of Santa Cruz, in the Bolivian newspaper La Razón.

Garcia's allegations have led to Bolivian Deputy Sports Minister Miguel Angel Rimba ordering an investigation.

Montenegro coach Sava Kovačević, whose team was knocked out by Bolivia in the semi-finals, said that they have asked FIFA to look into the matter following Garcia's allegations.

"Watching them in Singapore, I remember thinking they looked like very big boys," said Kovačević.

"Their number one [goalkeeper Pedro Galindo], number three [defender Carlos Anez] and number 11 [six-goal top-scorer Rodrigo Mejido (pictured)] were all very big."

Singapore's assistant coach Abdullah Noor has also cast doubts over the Bolivians without directly accusing them.

"It is rare to see 14 or 15-year-old players who are so composed," he said.

"if the allegations are false then they are very good and very mature players."

But FIFA claimed they had no plans to open an inquiry. 

They said that their technical staff had met each footballer individually at the Olympic Village, where the players presented their passports, which were cross-referenced with the dates of birth submitted by their respective National Olympic Committees.

Marco Antonio Etcheverry, generally considered to be Bolivia's best-ever player, who travelled with the squad to Singapore to offer encouragement, has defended the youngsters.

"These people [who make these allegations] only want to do harm, because they are mediocre and losers," he said.

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