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Hamm: Matter should not have even come up

8/23/2004

ATHENS, Greece -- U.S. Olympic officials on Saturday said they would consider supporting South Korean officials in a bid to award duplicate gold medals for the men's all-around title, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Paul Hamm says the matter should not have even come up.

Earlier Saturday, the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) ruled that Yang Tae Young was unfairly docked a tenth of a point in last week's all-around final, costing him the gold medal that ended up going to Hamm. It was a historic win for Hamm, who became the first U.S. man to win the title. The South Korean got the bronze instead.

Hamm said Sunday that he was upset with the
International Gymnastics Federation. Though FIG says it cannot
change the results, the South Koreans plan to appeal to the Court
of Arbitration for Sport in hopes of getting a duplicate gold
medal.

"I can understand where they're coming from," Hamm said,
referring to the South Koreans. "The people I'm a little bit upset
with is the FIG because this matter should have never even come up.
Reviewing videotape isn't even allowed in the rules. Rules can't be
changed after the competition is over. Right now, I personally feel
I shouldn't even be dealing with this."

The International Olympic Committee has had some experience with similar requests. At the 2002 Winter Olympics, a French figure-skating judge said she was pressured by her federation's chief to favor the Russians in pairs over the Canadians. Jamie Sale and David Pelletier of Canada were ultimately awarded duplicate golds.

The South Koreans were expected to send the case to Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday, but on Sunday the CAS indicated it won't take the case.

"If it's a dispute related to scoring or judging it would be very difficult for CAS to review the decision of the gymnastics federation,'' CAS general secretary Matthieu Reeb said. "As a practice CAS does not review field-of-play decisions.''

South Korea could have a long road ahead, and though potential U.S. support for duplicate medals no doubt strengthens its argument, South Korea must convince FIG and the IOC. And according to the Times, it was not immediately clear whether either group would even consider such a proposal.

Gilbert Felli, the IOC's executive director for the Olympic Games, said it had not been approached by the Koreans.

On Saturday, FIG suspended three judges, but said the results would not be changed.

The 0.100 points deducted from Yang's start value in parallel bars -- the difficulty of the routine -- was the difference between third and first. Without the mistake, Yang would have won gold, Hamm silver and Kim bronze.

Teams can make an "inquiry" about a start value, but it must be done no later than one event after the routine in question, according to gymnastics rules. South Korea failed to lodge a protest in time, so the scoring could not be changed, said Philippe Silacci, spokesman for the federation, known as FIG. According to Jae Soon-yoo, an official with the South Korean delegation, the South Koreans did question the scoring as soon as the routine was over and were told by the judges to file a protest letter after the meet.

"You can't replay what happened," a senior USOC official told the L.A. Times on Saturday night, speaking on condition of anonymity. "But you can say an honest mistake was made, and let's try to do something fair for both athletes."

Jae added, "We also don't want to break the heart of Paul Hamm. We would prefer if the two could share the gold medal."

Paul's father, Sandy Hamm, told the Times in a telephone interview that "Paul would feel badly if he had done something unfair."

"But when a game is over, it's over," Sandy Hamm said. "It's the same as going back over every ref's call. You can argue, but it doesn't change anything."

USA Gymnastics president Bob Colarossi also compared Wednesday's mistake to a bad call in football that wasn't discovered until
after the game. He insisted FIG's decision should not put an asterisk on Hamm's gold medal.

"Paul Hamm's performance the other night was absolutely incredible," Colarossi said. "It's unfortunate the judges didn't have the right start value."

Information from the Associated Press was included in this report.