Bone tests of nearly 13,000 athletes found that over 2,000 were likely older than their registered age, the Sports Bureau of Guangdong Province, which carried out the probe, said.
The tests were carried out on athletes registered at provincial sports academies with most youths in their teens, it said in a report posted on its website.
Some of the athletes were up to seven years older than their registered ages, but most only differed by a year or two, said the report, which listed the names and disciplines of all those tested.
Accusations of age faking have been made repeatedly against Chinese athletes in recent years, most prominently with the nation\’s gold-medal winning gymnastic team at the Beijing Olympics in August 2008.
Some of the gymnasts were alleged to have been listed as older than their actual age so they could circumvent a rule banning competitors younger than 16.
Competition results to be reviewed
However the International Gymnasts Federation, the sport\’s governing body, cleared them of any wrongdoing.
“We must ensure that those athletes faking their ages can not find any way to take advantage (in competition),” local press quoted bureau officials as saying after the Guangdong results were revealed.
“Based on the bone X-ray examinations, we will review all the results of youth sports competition in 2008.”
In December last year, the Chinese Basketball Association said it had discovered 36 players with false ages.
New Jersey Nets forward Yi Jianlian, who is from Guangdong province, is officially listed as being 21 years old, but local press reports late last year said his real age was 24.
The investigation into the 13,000 athletes came as Guangdong prepared for the 2010 Asian Games.
The province will this year host the four-yearly China National Sports Games, and in 2011, the World University Games will be held in Shenzhen, a major city in Guangdong that borders Hong Kong.