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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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Hardly definitive...
By Suomynona on 8/21/2008 10:11:09 AM , Rating: 5
I think this probably is her real birthdate, but since when is a Google cache of an Excel spreadsheet a "primary state-issued document"? It's a good find, but this guy is hyping his discovery a little more than is warranted.

I think it would be great if the IOC did a little more digging than just asking for an (easily-faked) passport, but when they're presented with an official passport and an archived Excel spreadsheet, which do you think they're going to choose?

RE: Hardly definitive...
By Inkjammer on 8/21/2008 10:19:54 AM , Rating: 2
Perhaps, but this is the same kind of whistleblowing that gets people looking, investigating. People dig, find answers. The investigating that leads to discovery of dangerous amounts of lead in children's toys, the poisoned Chinese toothpaste containing DEG, contaminated pet food...

Sure, pet food and gymnists have nothing in common, but if people never dig then they never find answers. If she's really 16 what does it matter? She has nothing to fear. If the cached document was found to be legit and deleted to cover it up, then it's just another strike in the book.

The worst crime against He is that she may never have been made aware of her crimes by people so obsessed with winning they used the girl for their own advantages.

RE: Hardly definitive...
By FITCamaro on 8/21/2008 1:34:02 PM , Rating: 1
Oh please. She's gone on television and stated that "I am 16". She's just as guilty about lying as the government is.

RE: Hardly definitive...
By Continuation on 8/21/2008 6:19:05 PM , Rating: 2
And you have proof that she was "lying" in saying "I am 16" how?

Oh please.

RE: Hardly definitive...
By 16nm on 8/21/2008 7:44:09 PM , Rating: 1
You must understand that this is a 14 year old child. She can't be held accountable. It's just not fair.

There's no doubt that these young girls are the real victims here.

RE: Hardly definitive...
By CloudFire on 8/25/2008 4:11:04 PM , Rating: 2
you're kidding right? it's just not fair.
your ignorance is beyond belief.

WHAT IS NOT FAIR is that these girls (if they are really underaged) is that they won gold medals that should have belonged to somebody else.

if they are on the world stage saying they are "16". then they should be held accountable that they are 16.

regardless if they are the victim, what can we do to change that? change the chinese government? hardly.

this is a WORLD EVENT, it must be held on fair grounds for everyone to compete in such an event. the rules are set by an international olympics committee (the IOC) and should be heavily enforced to ensure fair competition. there are no biases from country to country, and why should china have an advantage of having "14" year old gymnasts competing when they are at an advantage putting the world at a disadvantage?

your logic could somewhat resemble US laws, a 17 year old drunk driver hitting and killing someone, "it's just not fair"? they weren't accountable? because they were only a 17 year old kid?

"because i'm 17, i didn't know any better?"

give me a break. if you did the action, prepare for the consequences

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