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Embattled tennis player Novak Djokovic has “legitimate questions to answer’ over discrepancies in his COVID test results, says an Australian cyber-security expert.
An Australian cyber-security experts says Novak Djokovic has “legitimate questions to answer" over discrepancies in his COVID test results.
Robert Potter, co-CEO of cyber security firm Internet 2.0 told the Sydney Morning Herald research by German news site Der Spiegel showing Djokovic’s COVID tests may have been manipulated was backed by “sufficient evidence”.
The site raised the possibility Djokovic’s test results were tampered with after inconsistencies emerged about the timing and result of his PCR test.
Djokovic sought a medical exemption to enter Australia unvaccinated on the basis that he had already tested positive for COVID-19.
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Documents provided by Djokovic’s lawyers at his court hearing on Monday revealed the tennis player took a PCR test at 1.05pm on December 16 – returning a positive result seven hours later.
However, Der Spiegel's investigation reveals the digital timestamps on Djokovic’s test result, accessed via Serbia’s public central test registry, show the test was from 2: 21pm on December 26 - ten days after the alleged test date.
Mr Potter also confirmed there were inconsistencies between the timestamps in the documentation Djokovic presented to border officials, and the URL linked to the QR code on one of the Serbian’s tests.
He said while there might be a valid explanation for the discrepancies, legitimate questions remained.
“I can’t interpret the medical implications but I’d say there is sufficient evidence to question the fidelity of his paperwork submitted to the Australian government relating to his positive test,” Mr Potter told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“The time stamp contained within the QR code of his positive test does not match the paperwork as submitted.
“However, the timestamp of his negative test does match his submitted paperwork.
“As long as you are confident that the QR codes you have sent me for evaluation match those submitted to the Australian government, then I’m confident saying that Djokovic has legitimate questions to answer."
The German cyber group that worked with Der Spiegel on the investigation – Zerforschung – also found problems with the time of Djokovic’s alleged positive result on December 16 and his negative result on December 22.
Under the Serbian testing system, a consecutive identification number – or confirmation code - is assigned to each test.
Djokovic’s positive test, allegedly from December 16, is numbered 7371999.
However, his number from the December 22 negative test is 50,000 spots lower, and according to Serbian health data, exactly 50,000 tests were performed between December 22 and 26.
Zerforshung said this suggests the negative test was performed prior to the positive test and entered into the database – not the other way around.
Zerforshung’s blog noted a plausible explanation for the timestamp discrepancy has been brought to their attention, but not for the problems with the confirmation codes.
The group said someone on HackerNews had pointed out the reason for the timestamp differences could be that the stamps are regenerated when you download the PDF with the result.
However, this does not explain the discrepancies in the confirmation codes as these stay the same on the PDFs.
Since the Federal Circuit and Family Court quashed Djokovic’s visa cancellation on Monday, the world No 1 has been training at Melbourne Park in preparation for his Australian Open appearance.
The tennis star's stay in Australia could still be cut short, as Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is currently "considering" whether the Federal government will still cancel Djokovic’s visa and deport him from Australia.
Mr Hawke is considering cancelling Djokovic’s visa on the grounds that his basis for a medical exemption - prior infection of COVID-19 in the past six months – is invalid.
He could also look at cancelling Djokovic’s visa on character grounds based on the Department of Home Affairs widened investigation into his breach of isolation requirement in Serbia, the incorrect information on his border entry forms, and the inconsistencies on his COVID tests.
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