Hacker: Gymnast He is 14, not 16

A blogger uses Google and a Chinese search engine to find government documents showing the uneven-bars champ's birth date as Jan. 1, 1994.

Published August 21, 2008 11:00AM (EDT)

A blogger who goes by the name Stryde has been using Google and the Chinese-language search engine Baidu to try to find original government documents that prove Chinese gymnast He Kexin, the uneven-bars gold medalist, is really 14, not 16, as China claims she is. Chinese officials produced a passport that shows He was born in 1992, not 1994, as alleged by many, and that was good enough for the International Olympic Committee.

The IOC, not wanting to have a fight over some little girl with the host nation slash world's largest market, would have rubber-stamped He's eligibility if China's proof of her age had been a 1977 Pete Rose bubblegum card.

Not surprisingly, Stryde has had some success in finding hard evidence of this fraud, which he's documented in posts called Hack the Olympics! and Olympic Hacking Part II: Let's go for the Gold.

Stryde found some Excel spreadsheets hosted on Chinese government Web sites that contain He's name and the birth date 1-1-94. During the two-day process, these spreadsheets have had a habit of disappearing as fast as Stryde can find them, but readers are downloading and saving the files as fast as they can.

Stryde, whose "About Me" bio says he's a consultant with a high-tech security firm, acknowledges that He's age can hardly be called controversial anymore, writing Wednesday, "At this point, I believe that any reasonable observer already understands that age records have been forged."

Stryde writes that he actually has little interest in the finer points of gymnastics age limits. He's got more important things to worry about.

"I have received several comments to the effect of 'Who cares how old she is?'" Stryde wrote Tuesday. "In response: certainly not me. This blog is about government censorship and state sponsored fraud. I am attempting to demonstrate the power of free citizens to subvert government censorship."

Hat tip to reader Tim Potter for pointing out the Stryde Hax blog.

By King Kaufman

King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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