Jeanne Calment remains the oldest human whose age is well-documented.
Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who died two decades ago aged 122, should retain the title of the oldest person on record, French researchers said Monday, rejecting claims of fraud.
Ageing specialists Jean-Marie Robine and Michel Allard, who declared Calment the longest-lived person in the 1990s, said their review of old and new data confirmed she "remains the oldest human whose age is well-documented".
"Recently the claim that families Calment and Billot (her in-laws) organised a conspiracy concerning tax fraud based on identity fraud between mother and daughter gained international media attention," Robine, Allard and two other researchers wrote in The Journals of Gerontology.
Meeting Van Gogh
The new article insists Calment's identity "has not been usurped", according to a statement from the French research institute INSERM, where Robine works as research director.
The authors cross-checked the original data used to validate the centenarian's identity with newly uncovered documents, to show "there was neither tax fraud nor falsification of Jeanne Calment's identity" the article says.
The team also turned to mathematical modelling to counter arguments that her considerable age was impossible.
Born on February 21, Calment became the biggest attraction of the southern French city of Arles since Vincent Van Gogh, who spent a year there in 1888.
She said she had met the artist when he came to her uncle's store to buy paints, and remembered him as "ugly as sin" and having an "awful character".
INSERM said however that it could not "support any requests for exhumation" of Calment's body, on which no autopsy was performed after her death.
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