A U.S. hacker has gained access to closed Chinese documents that allegedly prove what has long been alleged: China is lying about the ages of its gymnastic team. The documents relate to He Kexin, who edged out American Nastia Liukin for the gold on uneven bars. The disclosure is the work of “Stryde,” a computer security expert for the New York-based Intrepidus Group. The site Stryde Hax revealed a detailed forensic search for He’s age. Stryde was identified by Information Week as Mike Walker.
China has relied on the passport that the government issued, even though at least three of the team had prior documents showing that they did not meet the age 16 requirement of the IOC, here.
The hacker hit gold in examining the cache of Chinese search engine Baidu. He found that Baidu lists two spreadsheets in He’s name, both giving her date of birth as January 1, 1994 – making her 14 years and 220 days old. Worse yet for China, the source of the data is, you guessed it, the General Administration of Sport of China.
Now, the question is what the notoriously passive IOC will do in face of mounting evidence of fraud. If substantiated, this is a fraud that is now being committed in plain view. It is one thing to fake the singer at the opening ceremonies, here, and quite another to fake the qualifying requirements for an athlete. What is particularly outrageous is that, if true, this was a fraud committed by the highest levels of the Chinese government. We know, for example, the the decision to lip sync the opening song was made at the highest levels. This controversy began before the games even started and required a concerted conspiracy to defraud the games, including government-issued false documents.
Since at least one prior Chinese gymnast has admitted to faking her age before winning a medal, some deterrence is obviously needed when a government participated in such a fraud. The obvious response is to strip the medals from the athlete, including any team medals for the country. However, a lifetime ban may be the only true deterrent as well as the possibility of banning the responsible trainers/coaches for life. There is also the possibility of banning the nation’s team from the next Olympics in that sport.