With questions about female gymnasts from China meeting minimum age requirements to compete in the Olympics increasingly scrutinized, and possibly supported by newly found documentation, I’m taking a stand on this issue.
If it is proven that Chinese athletes’ ages were misrepresented on official government documents in order to sidestep the rules and the spirit of the Olympic Games, then all Chinese athletes should be stripped of their medals.
Yes, I said it. Not just the athletes in question, not just the women’s gymnastics team. Every last one of them.
It seems pretty simple to me. If a weightlifter is caught doping, he is disqualified and stripped of any and all awards. A member of a relay team breaks the rules, and all members of the relay team are punished.
In this case, you can’t go any higher. The government of the host country may have broken the rules and the Sporting Authority in that country may have been involved in the conspiracy.
That being the case, the only recourse is to strip all of China’s athletes of their medals. The whole team must pay for the actions of their governing body.
But maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
When the age question first arose (and my wife appropriately questioned the age of a girl with missing teeth), the IOC responded to the allegations. They said that the Chinese gymnasts' ages were stated on their government-issued passports which are generally accepted as verification of an athlete’s age.
They met the requirement, and that was that. Yet questions still remained.
Since the International Olympic Committee didn’t bother to do the work, Mike Walker (a computer security expert) decided to do the job for them and found something a little more substantial.
Val Kilmer did it in The Saint. Matt Damon did it in the Jason Bourne Trilogy. Passports can easily be forged, at least in the movies. I imagine it’s even easier when you’re the issuing authority. After all, he who controls the information controls the people.
So Mr. Walker let his fingers do the walking and performed a search on Chinese web sites. He discovered that two documents that had gymnast He Kexin’s name on them had been removed.
Apparently the Chinese government has their hackers busy screwing with American web sites and trying to crack into the Pentagon’s computers and didn’t think to sweep their trail clean.
Walker found something, and from what I read, it was just waiting to be found.
In case you didn’t know, deleted files don’t just disappear into the ether. Like trash alongside the information superhighway, they stay until the cache memory is cleared and the drives are wiped clean.
The Chinese news site Xinhua apparently didn’t get the memo last November and had He Kexin’s listed as 13. The Associated Press found this web page earlier this month and reported it.
Later that day the page magically disappeared. The site was up, but the page? Poof. Ancient Chinese secret.
A May 23 story in the China Daily newspaper, the official English-language paper of the Chinese government, said He was 14. The story was later corrected to say she was 16.
Cue C&C Music Factory and file that under “Things that make you go, ‘Hmm’.”
Thanks to Mr. Walker’s due diligence, the IOC is launching an investigation into the age issue with Chinese gymnasts.
IOC spokesperson Giselle Davies has stated that the IOC has asked the International Gymnastics Federation, the governing body of the sport, to investigate.
I think at this point the IOC just wants to get the games over with and get the heck out of China in one piece. Then I think we’ll really hear more about this.
Can’t say I blame them in that sentiment. This deal is falling apart at the seams.
Fake fireworks shows, Milli Vanilli sing-songs, ethnic groups not represented as advertised, protests strangely absent, web access limited…And now it hits the fan.
The documents Mr. Walker discovered list He Kexin’s birthdate as January 1, 1994, making her ineligible to compete in these games. Gymnasts must turn 16 in the year of the Olympic Games. Oops.
The Excel spreadsheets apparently came from the General Administration of Sport of China. I’d say that’s pretty official.
And it seems that it was enough to wake up the IOC to what’s been pretty obvious to me all along. The Chinese would take any measures possible to make this Olympic Games the greatest production in history, and ensure that they were able to claim absolute athletic superiority over the world—especially the United States.
I've yet to been told when China became such a weightlifting powerhouse...
From the get-go, China wasn’t interested in the “Spirit of the Games” so touted by the IOC. After all, the IOC stripped an athlete after he threw his bronze medal in disgust at the wrestling judging.
If the IOC is to stay true to the “Spirit” and the allegations bear out, then the only way to rectify this is to punish China by excluding ALL of their athletes, based simply on the fact that the government violated the “Spirit” of the games.
Mind you, I feel sorry for little He Kexin for being a pawn used by her government. She never had a choice in the matter. I wonder if she has any clue what her real birthday is.
Yet it was not she who broke the rules, but those people who are supposed to enforce them.
China’s attempts at perfection in both the presentation of and competition in the Beijing Olympics are proving to be more difficult than catching Usain Bolt.
And now this meddling imperialist Mike Walker has gone snooping, and Zoiks! Scooby! I think we’ve found the source of the ghosts!
Shaggy and the crew of the Mystery Machine should be proud.
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