A hacker has unearthed evidence that several of the Chinese gymnast team were underage, as suspected. The digital remains of deleted files were dug up revealing the real ages of the Chinese athletes that won gold ahead of the United States.

Search engine hacker Stryde Hax – earth name Mike Walker – found traces of the official registration documents in the translation cache of Chinese search engine Baidu. The files had been deleted by the authorities from the official site, and Google documents.

They stated that one of the women-child gymnasts, He Kexin, was only 14 this year, beneath the mandatory age for competing of 16, which must be reached during the Olympic year. Kexin also won individual gold on the uneven bars.

No event for young girls

Two other members of the six-strong team – Jiang Yuyuan and Yang Yilin – also appear to be underage from the evidence of both these documents and most people's eyes. The Olympic age limit was introduced to protect the bodies of young gymnasts. The US protest is motivated more for the extra body bend that youth lends to such activities.

When asked about the age controversy, IOC President Jacques Rogge said: "The IOC relies on the international federations, who are exclusively responsible for the eligibility of athletes. It's not the task of the IOC to check every one of the 10,000 athletes."

On this no-nonsense note, we can only hope the IOC introduces a box in its next registration form asking drug cheats to give details of what performance-enhancing chemicals they have ingested over the preceding months.