Washington, Aug.23 : The man who exposed the fact that a Chinese gymnast was under-aged and participating in the Beijing Olympics, has said that he did it during his spare time, and added that he liked to find things on web servers that were never meant to be found.
Thirty-three-year-old computer security consultant Mike Walker said that he made his discovery after toiling for several hours without success.
Last Tuesday, as he tried to dig up more information about Chinese gymnast He Kexin, he redefined the parameters of his Google Hack and hit the jackpot.
On Google's cache he found evidence of a record of He Kexin's birth on a spreadsheet belonging to the General Administration of Sport of China - the country peak sports body. But the data had been removed.
On the Chinese search engine Baidu, he went one better. He found two caches of Excel spreadsheet which had been published on the web and both of them showed He Kexin's birthday as January 1, 1994.
The following day on Google's Chinese search engine, google.com.cn, he found yet more cached spreadsheets from the General Administration of Sport of China also showing the birth date as January 1, 1994.
This would make the tiny gymnast - who won two gold medals at the Olympics - 14 years old. Her Olympic credentials list her birth date as January 1, 1992, which would make her 16.
Regulations that were introduced in 1997 by the World Gymnastics Federation require gymnasts to turn 16 in the year of the Games to be eligible to compete.
As a direct result of Walker's findings and the resulting press coverage that it sparked, the International Olympic Committee yesterday announced that it had called for a review of the age falsification allegations surrounding China's dual gold medal gymnast.
Walker is still surprised by the reaction to his findings. "It's become the centre of a maelstrom and international media attention," he said.
"I never set out to change the course of the Olympics; I set out as I always do, a curious researcher, intent on the search for truth and the knowledge I could acquire along the way," he said in a blog post.
Story first published: Saturday, August 23, 2008, 15:35 [IST]
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