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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 Continuation on 8/21/2008 6:09:00 PM , Rating: 1
So just because some random self-proclaimed "hacker" presented some random screen shots that anyone with a computer could've made up in 2 minutes - that means the Chinese gymnasts must be underaged?

So far, there has been no proof whatsoever of the underage allegation. The IOC undertook an investigation and found nothing. The only things you have are rumors and random internet postings. Yet many are presuming China to be guilty. Is this some kind of "nationalistic/racist thing"?

RE: Waits for it...
By Parhel on 8/21/2008 10:35:17 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with that. Before jumping to conclusions, I'd like to see something much more credible.

Also, I'd like to add that I find the fact that her birth date was January 1st to be a little suspicious. Sure, it's possible. In fact I'd bet that about 1 out every 365 people are born on that day. But it just seems like it might be some kind of default information in a database that was never properly filled out.

RE: Waits for it...
By eldakka on 8/22/2008 4:12:42 AM , Rating: 2
A DoB of 1 January isn't really that unusual.

There are many hundreds of millions of people around the world who don't know what year they were born in, let alone the day and month.

In many countries in immigration departments, a DoB on applying for visas etc is in fact not a mandatory field.

However in some countries it is a mandatory field, and in those cases people will make 'best guesses' as to their age, then choose a random DoB within that year they think they were born, and many just choose 01/01.

As to the evidence, as I understand it, documents were found in numerous online locations (newspapers, google, etc) by someone, and when this age was pointed out many of these 'finds' disappeared. THEN some hacker found a cached version of these 'disappeared' documents on the baidu cache.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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