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A variety of screenshots provided by Stryde Hax, allegedly proving gymast He Kexin to be two years underage to participate in the 2008 Olympics.  (Source: Stryde Hax)
Proving once again that search engines can be some of the greatest hacking tools on the internet

A clever search engine hacker says he’s located primary source documents, provided by the Chinese government, that contain proof of an age-related cover-up on behalf of the Chinese women’s gymnastics team.

Working under the pseudonym “Stryde Hax” and posting to his blog, he says he was able to download spreadsheets previously deleted by the Chinese government by pulling up a cached copy stored on Chinese search-engine Baidu.

Stryde’s Blogger profile describes him as a consultant for security firm Intrepidus Group, and says he spends his spare time “[finding] things on web servers that were never meant to be found.”

His efforts focused specifically on gold-medal winning gymnast He Kexin, whose age is widely reported to be 16 years old. He’s passport lists her date of birth to be January 1, 1992 – however reports from a variety of news sources, including Chinese English-language newspaper China Daily, previously showed her birthday to be January 1, 1994, placing her age at a disqualifying 14 years old. (Many of the original reports allegedly disappeared soon after the scandal initially broke out.)

In order to participate, Olympic gymnasts must be at least 16 years old. The sport has a long history of contestants misrepresenting their age in order to participate in senior-level competitions.

Stryde says the documents he located were originally stored on web servers for the General Administration of Sport of China, however they appear to have been removed after a similar – largely unnoticed – story ran last July in the New York Times. Running a specially constructed search query against Google yielded a handful of results that ended up going nowhere, and Google’s cached data revealed what appeared to him as doctored or missing information. Running the same query against Baidu, however, netted another set of results that, like Google, went nowhere – but unlike Google, contained cached information clearly showing He with a birthday of January 1, 1994.

In response to his calls for urgency – not to mention front page exposure on Slashdot and Digg – Stryde says he’s been overwhelmed with support from readers, many who decided to mirror the spreadsheets on their own before they disappeared off of the web completely.

Of particular interest is a machine-translated version of his findings, which clearly state:

799, BB He Kexin CC female AA 1994.1.01 Beijing and
Beijing Beijing Municipal Sports Bureau, First Note

Regardless of the authenticity of Stryde’s findings – a handful of commenters dispute his claims – it’s possible that should his evidence either prove to be conclusive, or lead to the introduction of even more definitive evidence, then the 2008 Chinese gymnastics scandal could be the next in line to be felled by a relatively new phenomenon called “crowdsourcing,” or tapping into the collective knowledge of the internet. A similar phenomenon may have hastened the retirement of CBS news anchor Dan Rather, who once presented evidence of a story on air that the blogosphere later proved to be false.

At the time of this writing, the cached documents still appear to be online at Baidu.

Update 08/21/2008: Stryde's findings appear to have been the catalyst for a newly-opened, official IOC investigation into He Kexin's age.

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RE: Waits for it...
By retrospooty on 8/21/2008 9:36:03 AM , Rating: -1
Its a pretty stupid rule anyhow... if the olympics is to have the best compete vs the best to see who is... the best, why should it matter if the Gymnist is 10 years old or 100 for that matter? Put up your countries best. if they win based on the panel of judges scores, then good for them. That is what China did. Retarded rule.

RE: Waits for it...
By piroroadkill on 8/21/08, Rating: -1
RE: Waits for it...
By Master Kenobi on 8/21/2008 9:46:35 AM , Rating: 3
The problem is that younger girls are more flexible and have an advantage because their bodies are smaller and less developed. That is the reason for age minimums in Gymnastics. The body of a 12 or 14 year old is far superior in gymnastics than the body of a 16 or 20 year old. The way the gymnasts are scored, younger undeveloped bodies have a large advantage.

RE: Waits for it...
By Entropy42 on 8/21/2008 9:58:43 AM , Rating: 2
This is a really flawed argument. Natural advantages should be regulated? What about banning everyone under 30 then, because they are naturally more fit than older competitors. I would guess that the regulation has more to do with the fact that younger bodies may be damaged by training, but I don't know. I just hope its not actually because they have an age advantage.

RE: Waits for it...
By bighairycamel on 8/21/2008 10:05:47 AM , Rating: 4
Another reason mentioned was their younger undeveloped muscles were more susceptible to harsh injuies; injuries that would effect the gymnast for the rest of their life. At 14 gymnasts should still be training skills, not doing whole routines. At the risk of sounding cliche, since when has the Chinese government cared about the wellbeing of a citizen?

RE: Waits for it...
By DASQ on 8/21/08, Rating: 0
RE: Waits for it...
By Aloonatic on 8/21/2008 11:24:13 AM , Rating: 2
Training and competition are 2 completely different things.

Gymnastics is probably one of the most dangerous sports in the Olympic games.

When things go wrong, they can go very wrong and an inexperienced gymnast may well do something that she is not capable of on the say so of a coach.

I think the main reason for the age rule is to remove the temptation for coaches to use drugs and horemones to inhibit the natural growth of the girls for the reasons stated else where.

If they are expected to be over 14 and therefore have relatively mature bodies there is little point in keeping their physical shape to that of a child for as long as possible, as happened in the past.

RE: Waits for it...
By bighairycamel on 8/21/2008 11:45:05 AM , Rating: 2
First of all, it's not an argument, it's what was stated by the FIG.

Second, training skills and doing routines are very physically different. Learning how to do a flip off the high bar with 24 inches of mat underneath you in a controlled training environment is very less risky than doing multiple skills tied together with only 6 inches of padding underneath you and no one there to catch you.

RE: Waits for it...
By VaultDweller on 8/21/2008 7:59:45 PM , Rating: 1
Nah, that reasoning doesn't fly. Junior level gymnasts are judged on the same criteria as senior level gymnasts and perform the same maneuvers. They'd be doing the same thing whether they're competing against older athletes or not, so there's no reduction in risk - just a reduction in reward.

RE: Waits for it...
By rqle on 8/21/2008 9:54:45 AM , Rating: 4
its to protect the gymnist, rules was change so their bone can develope, international community didnt feel it was right for one of them to suffer an injury that can be damaging for the rest of their life.

for other sports in the olympics, any age can compete deem your best of the best. i guess they feel somewhat responsible.

RE: Waits for it...
By kelmon on 8/21/08, Rating: 0
RE: Waits for it...
By akugami on 8/21/2008 10:31:36 AM , Rating: 2
Archery and diving is nowhere near as physically demanding as gymnastics.

RE: Waits for it...
By emboss on 8/21/2008 12:13:05 PM , Rating: 2
You'd actually be surprised about platform diving. At a competitive level, it actually puts pretty significant strains on your body, both from the movements while spinning and from hitting water from 10 metres up. There's only so many times your wrists and shoulders can take the impact until they give out.

RE: Waits for it...
By Souka on 8/21/2008 2:05:08 PM , Rating: 2
Actually...the Chineese platform divers are typically failed Gymnasts...

This came from CBC coverage of the platform divers when they were talking abotu their training background. Something like "Typically these Chinesse divers are gymnasts that found platform diving a better fit".

"found.." "Better fit"... aka, failed Gymnasts

My $.02

RE: Waits for it...
By emboss on 8/21/2008 3:57:21 PM , Rating: 2
"Failed" is probably being a bit harsh. Sort of like calling a 100 m runner a failed 400 m runner. While there are similarities, and skills do transfer somewhat between them, you tend to be intrinsically suited more for one than the other. Most gymnastic disciplines require good anaerobic endurance, whereas diving focuses more on pure power (since you only need to exert yourself for a couple of seconds).

Also, quite a few gymnasts take up diving after suffering lower-body injuries that prevent them from continuing with gymnastics. By moving over to diving, they can work on wrecking their upper body to match :)

Finally, kids are typically introduced to gymnastics at a younger age than diving (not least because most children do not have sufficient elbow development to dive safely under the age of 7 or so), so quite often will have been doing gymnastics before they enter diving.

RE: Waits for it...
By Aloonatic on 8/21/2008 11:00:11 AM , Rating: 3
Rules is rules though, and I doubt that they were invented in case they may annoy the Chinese.

Gymnastics has a less than glorious history when it comes to the treatment of the younger female gymnasts, particularly by the Easter Block countries.

I believe the age limit is essentially a measure intended to protect the Girls both above and bellow 14 years of age.

Comparing the physical impact of gymnastics to archery or even diving isn't really at all fair. A gymnast's body is pushed to the limits and some very bad things can happen. There's plenty of clips on youtube of girls (and boys) landing on their heads and such as they push themselves to the limit when they try to compete.

Sure, when they train they are at risk of injuring themselves but in a big competition the temptation for a girl to push her self too far, purely on the say so of her coach without having the experience of her own body and limits is v dangerous.

One of the other big problems that sport used to have was coaches doping up their girl gymnasts with drugs and hormones to stop their bodies maturing as (as stated above) a girls smaller body is a positive advantage.

If the rules make it so that they are expected to have a fairly mature body this is essentially pointless.

RE: Waits for it...
By amdwilliam1985 on 8/21/2008 10:22:12 AM , Rating: 2
According to your analogy, then I can have a 15 years old kid enter the junior karate tournament(if there is a such thing) and beat the crap out of your 10 years old kid and win the gold medal for it. The "Retarded rule" will prevent such thing from happening.

RE: Waits for it...
By retrospooty on 8/21/2008 12:11:59 PM , Rating: 2
Is a direct combat sport, sure an adult has an advantage over a child. That is why they have age categories in such sports. Even boxing has weight categoreis... But gymnastics is purely skill, and HEAVILYabout practice. Why should age matter?

RE: Waits for it...
By wordsworm on 8/23/2008 8:21:13 PM , Rating: 2
You've got it backwards. It would be like having your 10 year old kid enter a junior karate tournament with 15 year olds and kicking their collective butts.

Another way to look at it - it would be like Walter Gretzky sending his son into teams with much older and bigger players and then breaking all the scoring records. Damned young kids are taking over the world. What happened to putting them in rooms and locking them in?

RE: Waits for it...
By Diesel Donkey on 8/21/2008 10:35:51 AM , Rating: 2
Do you have any idea how badly gymnastics training can damage a young girl's body? There's also the mental aspect. Asking a 12-year-old to perform on the world stage with her country's hopes and expectations on her shoulders can have serious consequences, especially if things don't work out as planned.

RE: Waits for it...
By retrospooty on 8/21/08, Rating: -1
RE: Waits for it...
By IGoodwin on 8/21/2008 12:53:43 PM , Rating: 3
I think the point is the competition should be fair. If China used underage contestants because of the 'natural' advantages, then the rest of the world should have been allowed to enter their younger contestants.

RE: Waits for it...
By retrospooty on 8/21/2008 10:09:51 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, I agree with you there. I was just saying its a dumb rule.

RE: Waits for it...
By Keeir on 8/21/2008 1:29:54 PM , Rating: 2
The problem

Its a "rule". A rule enacted by the governing body of the sport and applied equally to all participants. The rule is clearly written and easy to follow.

Violating the rule is grounds for a DQ. Just like any other rules. If I was caught throwing a discus that wieghed slightly more, I would be disqualified, even though I gained no disernable advantage from the heavier wieght.

RE: Waits for it...
By CloudFire on 8/25/2008 4:03:18 PM , Rating: 2
seriously, i completely agree

some people posting on this thread don't seem to understand that RULES are made by the olympic committee that the WHOLE world has to oblige by to maintain regulations.

it is very simple, if you cheat, you should be DQ for following a basic rule that anyone who is literate could understand.

Gymnasts HAS TO BE 16 years of age or OLDER to compete. last time i checked on the sequential numbering system, 14 is below 16.

on those premises, they should lose their medals. that is all to it.

RE: Waits for it...
By FITCamaro on 8/21/2008 1:32:58 PM , Rating: 3
It doesn't matter whether you think they're ready.

The FACT is that the rules say 16. If she's under that then she's not eligible to compete and thus should be stripped of her medal.

Until the rules are changed, they must be abided by. You can argue all you want on whether you agree or not. But they're still there.

Many people think 18 year olds should be allowed to drink in the US. That doesn't mean a kid is less guilty because they chose to ignore it based on that they think its unfair.

RE: Waits for it...
By retrospooty on 8/21/2008 10:11:08 PM , Rating: 2
I know... I agree with you there, not saying China didnt cheat, they did. I just think the rule should not be.

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