WASHINGTON -- Paul Hamm, who got to keep his gold medal last
year after an appeal from a rival gymnast, will testify Thursday at
a congressional oversight hearing on the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Jeff Lungren, a spokesman for the House Judiciary Committee,
told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Hamm will testify at a
subcommittee hearing that will review the performance of the USOC.
Hamm, of Waukesha, Wis., and his local congressman, House
Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Sensenbrenner, have complained
about how the USOC, a congressionally chartered organization,
handled the controversy last summer.
Hamm won the gold medal on Aug. 18, rallying from 12th place
with only two events left to become the first American man to
finish first in the Olympic all-around. But the International
Gymnastics Federation asked Hamm to give up his gold medal because
South Korea's Yang Tae-young was wrongly docked a tenth of a point
on his parallel bars routine.
Hamm defeated Yang by 0.049 points, but how the error would have
affected the outcome isn't known because it came with one event to
go and there was no guarantee the final event would have played out
the same without the scoring error. Also, the mistake the judges
made was not reviewable, and thus not eligible to be overturned.
The USOC came to Hamm's defense, but it was a couple of days
after the controversy began.
Hamm and Sensenbrenner, a Republican, have said that the USOC
should have more vigorously defended the American gymnast. In
October, a three-judge panel from the Court of Arbitration for
Sport rejected Yang's appeal, finally ending the saga. Hamm was
represented by USOC lawyers.
"We were steadfast in our defense of Paul and his medal," USOC
spokesman Darryl Seibel said. "We're pleased with the
Lungren said the hearing will also include USOC chief executive
officer Jim Scherr and other witnesses.
"The chairman was very disappointed last year after Paul Hamm
produced one of the most memorable moments in Olympic moments, yet
was hung out to dry by the USOC while the Olympic gold medal he had
earned on the field of play was being challenged," Lungren said.
Hamm did not immediately return messages left by the AP on his
In addition to the Hamm situation, the subcommittee will review
the overall performance of the USOC.
In 2003-04, the USOC underwent massive restructuring, largely at
the behest of Congress. It reduced the size of its board from 125
to 11 people, reduced the number of committees from 23 to four and
clarified roles and responsibility of management and the board. A
housecleaning among top management of the organization also ensued.
Lungren said he wasn't sure whether this hearing might bring
about more changes.
"We will look at how the USOC is fulfilling its main job of
supporting U.S. athletes," he said.