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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: Uncanny
By MikeHarper on 8/21/2008 5:41:33 PM , Rating: 3
I don't know if any of you follow gymnastics, but didn't that floor look a bit strange? Both of my kids are in competitive gymnastics and I watch college competition and Visa championships, etc and I've never seen one like that. The anouncers were commenting in the beginning that this floor is more rigid than what the gymnasts are used to. The more rigid the floor the more difficult it is to translate your forward momentum into vertical height, making the tumbling runs go long. It will also cause you to under rotate making it more likely to take a step. This is why the americans (and many others) had trouble staying in bounds. No doubt the Chinese girls were training on this type of floor for years. After a few days of competing and getting used to it, who got the medals on the floor apparatus finals? Not the Chinese.


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