Would a government willing to risk a global pandemic of SARS just to protect its own image go so far as to change a date on a passport? An anxious world pauses, ponders the rouged embryo that just won gold on the uneven bars, and waits.

“More information has come to light that did point to discrepancies,” [IOC spokesman Giselle] Davies said. “We have asked the gymnastics federation to look into it further with the national Chinese federation. If there is a question mark, and we have a concern – which we do – we ask the governing body of any sport to look into … as to why there is a discrepancy.”

The man who uncovered the allegations about the underage athlete told The Times that he was not even a sports a fan, but decided to investigate the issue to determine if Chinese authorities were lying. He eventually discovered that two Excel spreadsheets on the Chinese government’s official sports website – www.sport.gov.cn – that mentioned her name had recently being removed.

“There was a conclusion here,” [computer security expert Mike] Walker said. “These documents existed, on a state-wide website, and now they don’t exist, and this change has taken place recently. I was interested because these were documents that no-one could find. If there’s information to be found on the internet I’m a citizen journalist – it was a challenge.”…

Under his blog name Stryde Hax, Mr Walker wrote: “Much of the coverage regarding Kexin’s age has only mentioned ‘allegations’ of fraud, and the IOC has ignored the matter completely. I believe that these primary documents, issued by the Chinese state … rise to a level of evidence higher than ‘allegation’. How official are these documents? Pretty dang official – they were issued by the General Administration of Sport of China.”

The two spreadsheets in question list her DOB as 1/1/94, making her not quite 18 months shy of the eligibility age of 16. I won’t insult your intelligence by asking why the IOC waited until the end of the Olympics to investigate this when questions were being raised back at the start of the Games, before the gymnastics events even took place, about whether passports and a team’s ipse dixit were reliable proof of age. Here’s your exit question instead: Why was China so sloppy about hiding the evidence? Not only did Walker find the spreadsheets on a government website, but until recently reports of the actual ages of the gymnasts were available on Chinese state news pages. They spent years planning a mind-blowing opening ceremony to impress the world, yet no one thought to devote five minutes to scrubbing the ‘Net of evidence of their grand fraud in the actual competition?