Feeds

Hacker unearths young Chinese gymnast scam

Underage and under the radar

Intelligent flash storage arrays

A search engine hacker has uncovered fresh evidence that the Chinese women's gymnastic team cheated by fielding underage competitors.

Doubts surfaced even before the competition that as many as half the members of the six-strong team - who won China's first ever team gold medal at the Beijing Olympics last week - are far younger than the minimum age of 16. He Kexin, Jiang Yuyuan and Yang Yilin were all too young to compete, AP reports.

AP based its reports on registration lists filed by Chinese authorities in the years 2004 to 2006. Subsequent media reports have mentioned articles by Chinese official press agency Xinhua.

Much of this information has since been pulled by Chinese authorities, but enterprising hackers have found digital remnants of incriminating files.

Search engine hacker Stryde Hax has unearthed copies of official registration documents by Chinese sporting authorities (the General Administration of Sport) that show the age of a Chinese double gold medal winning gymnast to be 14 - two years younger than the age that appears on her government-issued passport. The Excel files, purged by censors from the official site and from Google's document cache, were found in the document translation cache of Chinese search engine Baidu.

Stryde Hax's findings (here) reveal that He Kexin, who won individual gold on the uneven bars as well as a team gold, was born on 1 January 1994 (rather than 1992, as per her official passport and birth certificate). Under competition rules introduced to protect youngsters, gymnasts must be aged 16 during the year of an Olympics in order to be eligible. Younger girls have more flexible bodies, giving them an unfair advantage.

All this ought to be the focus of an investigation by the International Olympics Committeee or the gymnastics governing body; but such is the desire of both to avoid doing anything to offend their Chinese hosts that it's very unlikely anything will happen.

Questioned about the age controversy, IOC President Jacques Rogge said it wasn't its role to check up on the age of athletes. "The IOC relies on the international federations, who are exclusively responsible for the eligibility of athletes," Rogge said. "It's not the task of the IOC to check every one of the 10,000 athletes."

The minimum age for gymnasts was raised from 14 to 15 in the 1980s, then to 16 in 1997. Issues of age falsification aren't new; North Korea, Romania and China have all fielded underage competitors in the past, AP notes.

Olympic games medallists Gina Gogean and Alexandra Marinescu of Romania and Sydney Olympics double bronze medalist Yang Yun of China all competed under the eligible age, they have since admitted. North Korea was kicked out of the 1993 world championships after it was discovered that had listed a gold medallist at the previous games as being only 15 for three years on the trot.

Stryde Hax (the nom-de plume of Mike Walker, a principal consultant for the security outfit Intrepidus Group) said he doesn't have strong opinions about the age limit for gymnastic competitions, and simply undertook his investigation out of intellectual curiosity. He adds that he has nothing against the Chinese people either.

"While I may disagree with the effort the Chinese government is making to conceal this young woman's age, I have the utmost respect for the Chinese people," he writes, "and I believe that united they will be able to make state-sponsored censorship a thing of the past." ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Holy vintage vehicles! Earliest known official Batmobile goes on sale
Riddle me this: are you prepared to pay US$180k?
Criticism of Uber's journo-Data Analytics plan is an Attack on DIGITAL FREEDOM
First they came for Emil – and I'm damn well SPEAKING OUT
'Open source just means big companies can steal your code.' O RLY?
Plus: Flame of the Week returns, for one night only!
'It is comforting to know where your data centres are.' UK.GOV does NOT
Plus: Anons are 'wannabes', KKK says, before being pwned
NEWSFLASH: It's time to ditch dullard Facebook chums
Everything hot in tech, courtesy of avian anchor Regina Eggbert
Hey, you, PHONE-FACE! Kickstarter in-car mobe mount will EMBED your phone into your MUG
Stick it on the steering wheel and wait for the airbag to fire
Bible THUMP: Good Book beats Darwin to most influential tome title
Folio Society crowns fittest of surviving volumes
U wot? Silicon Roundabout set to become Silicon U-BEND
Crap-spouting London upstarts to get permanent road closure
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.