altAUGUST 22 - THE International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) were today asked to investigate the controversy surrounding the ages of Chnese competitors at the Olympics, which could lead to Britain's Beth Tweddle (pictured) being upgraded to the bronze medal position.


The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have tasked FIG to investigate, what spokeswoman Giselle Davies described as "a number of questions and apparent discrepancies".


The investigation was triggered by a United States computer expert who claimed yesterday to have uncovered Chinese Government documents hesaid proves that a member of the team, He Kexin is only 14, making her ineligible to compete in the Olympics.


Mike Walker, a computer security expert, tracked down two documents that he said had been removed from a Chinese Government website.


The documents, he said, stated that He’s birth date was January 1, 1994 - making her 14 - and not January 1, 1992, which is printed in her passport.


Her true age has been the subject of a swirling controversy since the Games began.


Questions over her eligibility intensified after she edged out US gymnast Nastia Liukin for the gold medal in the uneven bars on Monday, an event in which Tweddle was fourth, and was part of the team gold triumph last week.


The minimum age for female gymnasts was increased from 14 to 15 in 1981, and up to 16 in 1997, to protect the physical and mental health of young athletes.


In July, the New York Times published references to articles in the Beijing press in which He was referred to as 14 years old.


Chinese officials responded immediately by providing the newspaper and IOC with a passport copy indicating He had been born on January 1, 1992, but still doubts lingered, not least because the athlete looks barely past puberty.


Steve Penny, the president of USA Gymnastics, said: "USA Gymnastics has always believed this issue needed to be addressed by the FIG and IOC.


"An investigation would help bring closure to the issue and remove any cloud of speculation from this competition."