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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 MozeeToby on 8/21/2008 3:04:22 PM , Rating: -1
I disagree with taking the medals away from the athletes. Let's face it, even assuming they are aware of the rules (not necissarily a valid assumption) I garauntee that they wouldn't have had any choice in the matter after the decision had been made.

The best solution, to me, would be to award gold medals to the second places, silver to the third, and bronze to the fourth, while letting the Chinese athletes keep their medals (similar schemes have been used in the past when rules were broken by someone other than the athletes).

Then, find some way to punish the gaming authorities in China in the future. First and foremost would be improved vetting of all chineese athletes at the next Olympics, for age as well as drugs and 'scoring anomolies'.

Something certainly needs to be done, but stripping a 14 year old girl of her medal because she went along with some of the most powerful people in here totalitarian government seems too heartless.

RE: Waits for it...
By bighairycamel on 8/21/2008 5:06:46 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree with taking the medals away from the athletes. Let's face it, even assuming they are aware of the rules (not necissarily a valid assumption)...

It is a valid and proven assumption since the girls have been telling the media that they are 16. If they are in fact younger than that, then that would mean they had been speicifically told to lie so they could compete.

RE: Waits for it...
By Master Kenobi on 8/22/2008 8:43:33 AM , Rating: 2
I disagree with taking the medals away from the athletes.

Give me a freakin break. You cheat, you get caught, you lose the medals. I don't care if you did it willingly, unwillingly, or were forced at gun point. Strip them of their medals.

RE: Waits for it...
By Aloonatic on 8/22/2008 9:06:05 AM , Rating: 2
That sounds like what could easily happen if this was to occur during the London 2012 Olympics and the UK authorities had to make the decision.

The way that "competition" is such a dirty word in the UK these days, I wouldn't be surprised to see words like "winner" and "loser" being banned as it might make someone sad.

They would almost certainly replace the gold, silver and bronze medals with a steel medal for everyone who turns up, just for being super and "having a go", given half a chance.

Seriously though, they knew. It's highly unlikely that they don't know the rules but even if they didn't, they still cheated. Ignorance is no excuse.

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