In Olympics Outburst, Chinese Tech Celeb Posts Personal Info of US Swim Official on Weibo [UPDATED]

Steven Millward
11:40 am on Aug 2, 2012

Ah, the Olympics. Uniting nations in mutual distrust and nationalist, self-righteous anger for over a century. And so it came to pass this morning that one of China’s leading tech luminaries, Li Kaifu – former Google China head – posted a small graphic to his 15 million Sina Weibo followers containing personal info about John Leonard, the US swim official who first voiced doubts about the gold medal performance of Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen. It included an address and a phone number that we couldn’t verify. [UPDATED: A reader kindly provides us with the deleted Weibo post that appears to contain a specially-created card with Leonard’s details on it]:

Mr. Li deleted that above tweet in under an hour, and defended his prior action by saying that the information about the US coach was widely available on the web already. To prove it, he posted a link in a new tweet to a PDF file hosted externally (on fgcswim.org) that contains apparent home addresses and mobile phone numbers for numerous Team USA coaches. The tweet is here, and this is the screenshot:

Li Kaifu posts a shot of what he says are John Leonard's criminal records. Click to enlarge.

Leonard’s words, that Ye’s blistering speed in the pool was “unbelievable” and “disturbing,” hinting at the possibility of doping, hit hard in China where some feel that the teenage swimmer is being robbed of her chance to enjoy her world record win.

In further posts to Weibo this morning, Li Kaifu – who now runs the startup incubator Innovation Works – kept up the pressure on John Leonard, saying that “he has criminal records (two of which are not for speeding).” The inference is that the other two the crimes – there appear to be four in public records – are more serious. A blurry image of Leonard’s criminal record history was also attached to the Weibo post in the above image.

As we know that Li is a keen observer of world events, he can’t have been unaware of the furore earlier this week over the journalist who was banned from Twitter for tweeting out the email address of the NBC executive who runs its Olympics coverage. Only time will tell if Sina’s (NASDAQ:SINA) trigger-happy Weibo censors will take action on Li’s posts.

The deleted tweet is seen here with the typical “This post has been deleted” line from Weibo, now existing as a ghostly appendage on its many initial retweets:

Li Kaifu’s outburst against John Leonard seems to have surprised some of his followers. The Weibo user @请输入常用词 was astonished by his now-deleted tweet, saying “I can’t believe he did this… such an improper way.” But among others, it might win Li new supporters and followers. Perhaps the best thing to say of this whole controversy is that, surely, Ye Shiwen is innocent until proven otherwise.

[UPDATE 2]: Now Mr. Li has also deleted the post in the second picture above that contained both the Leonard criminal record screenshot and the link to the US coaches’ details.

[Thanks to Fergus Ryan on Twitter for the image of the deleted tweet]


Replies
  • http://www.twitter.com/firstclasstweet Shaun

    Whatever next? The Olympics coverage on Twitter? No need to actually watch the olympics anymore, just read 140 characters and you have your ‘Olympics’ update. Oh…we already have that courtesy of Twitter handles @London2012 and @NBCOlympics.

    In fact in 2016 Rio de Janeiro, why not have the athletes tweet whilst taking part, argue with spectators about performance, before they start their race, after they finish – pause for a quick tweet in the middle of the session. How much more ‘interesting’ the badminton 8 farce would have been if we had had some tweets during the session.

    Yes Twitter and the like are great, but lets not take the focus off the real world as well. Posting an olympic swimmers details just because you don’t like what he said is pretty iffy, if it happened, but at the same time it is only because the like of Twitter are dominating the lives of many that such an action gets such an audience. 12 years ago, 8 year ago, 4 years ago – would not have happened.

    Shaun
    http://www.twitter.com/firstclasstweet

  • Nimo78

    Wow, Chinese nationalism run amok. It’s like having Bill Gates throwing a hissy fit.

    Using the excuse that it’s somehow publicly available info does not excuse what is a blatant call to harm someone else by inciting a mob.

    Besides, this seems like an attack on the messenger, not the message. The belief that China systematically dopes is widespread throughout Asia and Europe. Yet we see a singular focus on attacking the USA, which seems to confirm a UK Mail story on how Chinese athletes are relentlessly grilled to focus on beating the USA as their goal.

  • kevin

    American athletes consistently dope.

  • Peter Cao

    Kaifu Lee, is not a Chinese citizen, but has U.S. citizenship. I believe Kaifu Lee’s overzealous action over John Leonard’s case was not authorizated either from Chinese Olympics Team nor from Ms Ye Shiwen herself. I believe Kaifu Lee is taking advantage of both a Chinese Olympics Hero Ms Ye Shiwen and Mr. John Leonard, to make a grandstanding fuss for his personal interest, in order to get attention and sympathy from the public in preparation for his attemption to return to Google China

    Kaifu Lee used to betray his former employers of both Microsoft and Google, and he had even ensued legal battle when he suddenly left Microsoft for Google in 2005. Again Kaifu Lee suddenly abandoned his former employer Google China when he started his own business in 2009, soon after he could take away all the Google stock. A really treachery type.

  • Peter Cao

    [Comment removed by moderator: Libelous allegations]

  • Peter Cao

    [Comment removed by moderator: Libelous allegations]

  • Peter Cao

    [Comment removed by moderator: Libelous allegations]

  • Peter Cao

    [Comment removed by moderator: Libelous allegations]

  • Peter Cao

    [Comment removed by moderator: Libelous allegations]

  • Brownnose Li Kaifu

    Li Kaifu trying to earn brownie points with the Chinese authorities again.

  • Peter Cao

    Kaifu Lee, is not a Chinese citizen, but has U.S. citizenship. I believe Kaifu Lee’s overzealous action over John Leonard’s case was not authorizated either from Chinese Olympics Team nor from Ms Ye Shiwen herself. I believe Kaifu Lee is taking advantage of both a Chinese Olympics Hero Ms Ye Shiwen and an American Coach Mr. John Leonard, to make a grandstanding fuss for his personal interest, in order to get attention and sympathy from the public in preparation for his attemption to return to Google China

    Kaifu Lee used to betray his former employers of both Microsoft and Google, and he had even ensued legal battle when he suddenly left Microsoft for Google in 2005. And again Kaifu Lee suddenly abandoned his former employer Google China when he started his own business in 2009, soon after he could take away all the Google stock. A really treachery type.

    Kaifu Lee had placed himself above the average Chinese people and he had been routinely offending dignity of Chinese people; And Kaifu Lee had left an image of immoral villian to Chinese society when he mobbed his weibo followers to attack innocent Chinese citizens over and over; his morality and credibility are seriously questioned by Chinese people over times; all of which make it really hard to say — “Kaifu Lee has been a great bridge between China and the US”

  • Peter Cao

    some typo:

    Kaifu Lee, is not a Chinese citizen, but has U.S. citizenship. I believe Kaifu Lee’s overzealous action over an American Coach John Leonard’s case was not authorizated either from Chinese Olympics Team nor from Ms Ye Shiwen herself …

  • Ray

    Jonh Leonard such a stupid jerk. Why care? Not only him, the media to let this trash talk

  • Major Plonquer

    Who cares what this chump says. Like some “star” of a reality TV program, Kaifu Lee is only famous for being famous. He’s never actually done anything. He jumped from Microsoft before he was pushed for non-performing. When he joined Google he was sued and wasn’t allowed to do anything. He started Innovation Works which has achieved a grand total of zero.

    There are lots of people in China’s software industry who are very good, work very hard and are building their business one step at a time. Kaifu Lee isn’t one of them.

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