North Korea has been dealt a blow ahead of the start of the Asian Games here tomorrow with the news that gymnast Cha Yong-hwa has been banned and stripped of all her results since 2006 for falsifying her age.
In a statement, the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) blamed the North Korean team for submitting a fake passport for the athlete, and confirmed that her licence has been withdrawn and all her results annulled dating back to August 2006.
This will include the team silver and uneven bars bronze she won at the Doha 2006 Asian Games.
The North Korean Gymnastics Federation was also fined CHF 25,000 (£16,000/$26,000/ €20,600), and must return all medals and prize money within 60 days.
While in other sports, athletes have been accused of pretending they are younger than they actually are in order to compete in lower age groups, in gymnastics the problem is the opposite because FIG has long imposed minimum ages to protect the development of youngsters.
North Korea has been among the most frequent offenders, with Kim Gwang-suk, the 1991 uneven bars world champion, banned two years later for claiming to be 15 for three consecutive years.
This led to North Korean gymnasts missing out on the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Although Cha, the latest athlete to be implicated, was not due to compete here at Incheon 2014, it is still a blow ahead of a Games in which North Korean athletes are set to compete on South Korean soil, a country with whom they are still officially at war.
North Korea boycotted the 1986 Asian Games and the 1988 Summer Olympics, both in Seoul, but competed at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan along with other more recent competitions south of the border.
And, gymnastics news notwithstanding, things appear to have gone well so far, with North Korean flags flying outside the team's apartments at the Athletes' Village, and due to be flown in stadiums and sports venues throughout the Games.
The country has also made a good start in a sporting sense ahead of tomorrow's Opening Ceremony, with the men's football team having already enjoyed victories over China and Pakistan, while their female counterparts swept past Vietnam, 5-0.
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