By Tom Degun in Guadalajara

Guadalajara high_jumper_October_2011October 25 - The Guadalajara 2011 Organising Committee have denied claims that their database containing the confidential information of over 1,000 journalists attending the Pan American Games here have been illegally hacked.

The Games had just passed the halfway point with everything running relatively smoothly until hundreds of the journalists received an anonymous email earlier this week warning of a major security issue on the website where they were required to submit personal information in order to obtain their accreditation.

The majority of the anonymous emails included the first few digits of the reporter's passport number and date of birth therefore putting them at major risk of identity theft or fraud.

But Carlos Duran Hernandez, assistant director of information technologies at the Organising Committee, has quickly moved to calm fears saying that the federal police in Mexico have now secured the website and that there "has not been any illegal access to the database".

In an official statement, Hernandez said: "Access to the information may have occurred because of an incorrect use of a real password for the registration system.

"The person that had the password may have accessed the information shown in the screen and therefore was able to make participants uncomfortable."

The anonymous email came from a person claiming to be a young independent web developer who accidentally stumbled across the alleged security breach.

The email said there was information on nearly all the 1,400 journalists accredited to cover the event but the email stated: "I also want to clarify that in no way am I a hacker or did I hack this website.

"I discovered the security hole in the website only by coincidence.

"I'm sure somebody else with bad intentions could gain easily access and abuse this security hole."

There are 42 nations participating at the 2011 Pan American Games, the second biggest multi-sport event on the planet behind the Olympics, and they have reacted furiously to the news.

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) have led the calls to ensure that the matter is seriously investigated and dealt with.

"The COC has contacted the Guadalajara 2011 Organising Committee to ensure that this matter is taken seriously, that all personal information related to accredited Canadian journalists be removed from the Organising Committee's information system immediately and that measures be taken to avoid any further security breaches," said COC executive director of communications Dimitri Soudas.

The Organising Committee has since confirmed that the confidential information collected from registered journalists has now been deleted but only as a "preventive measure and with the objective of avoiding similar circumstances in the future."

Security problems plagued the build-up to the Pan American Games but it was physical security threats out on the streets and in the venues rather than online security threats.

Guadalajara security
Security was perceived as a problem because drug-related violence has killed more than 35,000 people in Mexico since late 2006.

But a $10 million (£6.4 million/€7.3 million) project that has seen 10,000 municipal state and Federal police, as well as elements from the Mexican army and navy, patrol Guadalajara's streets 24 hours per day has so far paid off with no major physical security threats at the event so far.

The build-up to the competition was also dominated by construction delays although all the venues have been delivered on time, even the Telmex Athletics Stadium which was officially opened just last week with three days before the athletics competition got underway.

Construction to athletics venue was significantly delayed largely by unseasonal heavy rainfall which even saw the tail end of Hurricane Jova hit Mexico's Pacific Coast just days before the Opening Ceremony to leave the showpiece event in doubt.

But the rain fortunately halted the day before the Ceremony and has left a wave of gloriously sunny weather in its wake ever since.

Since that moment, the biggest problem for the 6,000 athletes competing in Guadalajara is the threat of contaminated meat in Mexico which in some cases contains the banned anabolic steroid clenbuterol.

The problem dramatically increased in magnitude last week after tests conducted in a laboratory in Germany showed that the majority of the players who competed at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Mexico earlier this year returned positive doping tests due to the contaminated meat with 19 of the 24 teams having squad members with traces of clenbuterol in their bodies.

But the Organising Committee have promised meat in the Athlete's Village is "100 per cent safe" with teams saying they are taking every precaution to avoid the problem by not letting athletes eat meat outside the walls of the complex.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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