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China's Yi denies age discrepancy claims

China's Yi Jianlian says there is no truth to reports that he is three years older than the age listed in his passport.

The New Jersey Nets forward is the subject of reports that says he is actually 24 and not 21.

"I'm 21," Yi told the New York Post newspaper. "This story started a long time ago. Some guy just wanted something to write about."

The Nets are not bothered by the reports.

"I'm not concerned," Nets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe told the paper. "Any time you have someone who is not from this country, those issues arise. What I look at is he's a young developing player.

"He hasn't played a ton of basketball to this point. You can look at his body and his physical makeup and see he's obviously very talented but still maturing. Whether he's 21 or 22, he's still very young."

The practice of falsifying ages in China is not uncommon. Officials often do so to help players qualify for youth tournaments.

China's Sports Ministry reported earlier this month that it found 36 players in China's professional basketball league whose dates of birth may have been changed.

China's gold medal-winning women's gymnastics team came under fire during this past summer's Beijing Olympics when the media began to question if the participants were under the required age of 16 years old.

Officials later deemed the women were eligible.

The sixth overall pick of the 2007 draft, Yi was acquired from Milwaukee in the offseason. The native of He Shan, China is averaging 10.2 points and 6.2 rebounds in 26 games.

 

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