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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 piroroadkill on 8/21/2008 9:39:18 AM , Rating: -1
I agree to be honest, if a 14 year old can kick the shit out of someone a bit older, i'm all for it


RE: Waits for it...
By Master Kenobi (blog) 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.


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