CAS said it would consider appeal

Updated: August 29, 2004, 2:09 PM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- South Korea made a last-ditch push for the gymnastics gold medal given to Paul Hamm, appealing to sports' international arbitration panel to say "yes" when everyone else has said "no way."

Only hours before the Olympics ended Sunday, Yang Tae-young asked the Court of Arbitration for Sport to order international gymnastics officials to correct the results from the all-around, and adjust the medal rankings so he gets gold and the American gets a silver.

"We said we wanted this misjudgment to be corrected. That was very clear from the beginning," said Jae Soon-yoo, spokeswoman for the South Korean delegation. "We are talking about our own rights, our own medal, not anyone else's."

But U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Darryl Seibel said the appeal was a moot point. The International Gymnastics Federation, known as FIG, has already said it won't change its results, and the International Olympic Committee has refused even to consider the idea of giving Yang a gold medal.

"We consider this a closed matter," Seibel said. "The IOC and the International Gymnastics Federation have both indicated there is no basis by which the results will be revisited, and we see no reason why that would happen."

CAS said it would consider the appeal in Lausanne, Switzerland, where it is based. With the Games over, there wasn't time to hear the case in Athens. CAS put off setting a date for the hearing until the FIG and USOC could prepare responses.

But there's no guarantee the case will even be heard. CAS traditionally avoids reviewing "field of play" decisions. If CAS does decide to hear the case, though, Seibel said the USOC will "absolutely be there to protect Paul's rights and his gold medal."

Hamm repeatedly has said he believes he is the rightful winner and he won't give up the gold unless ordered to.

FIG spokesman Philippe Silacci had no comment on the appeal.

USA Gymnastics president Bob Colarossi was traveling and could not be reached. Hamm returned to the United States on Wednesday.

Yang, who finished with a bronze, was wrongly docked a tenth of a point on his second-to-last routine, the parallel bars. He finished third, 0.049 points behind Hamm, who became the first American man to win gymnastics' biggest prize. But add the extra 0.100, and Yang would have finished 0.051 points ahead of Hamm.

That, however, assumes everything in the final rotation played out the same way.

Three judges were suspended because of the error, but FIG said the results would stand because the South Koreans didn't protest after the meet.

Nonetheless, the South Koreans refused to drop the case, which has brought back bitter memories for them. At the 2002 Winter Games, short track speed skater Kim Dong-sung was disqualified in the 1,500-meter race, allowing American Apolo Anton Ohno to win the gold.

After being turned down by FIG in the Yang case, the South Koreans appealed to the USOC and the IOC. But IOC president Jacques Rogge flatly refused to consider duplicate gold medals, and he reiterated that stance Sunday.

"Our position is extremely simple. The FIG has certified the result of the gymnastics competition. The IOC has awarded the medals according to the certified results," he said. "Paul Hamm was declared the winner and therefore he has received the gold medal, and for us that is final."

FIG president Bruno Grandi asked Hamm in a letter to give up the medal as a gesture of sportsmanship, saying, "The true winner of the all-around competition is Yang Tae-young." But the USOC called the request "deplorable" and said FIG should take responsibility for its own mistakes.

Rogge said the IOC would not be part of any effort to ask Hamm to hand back the medal.

Grandi's description of Yang as the "true winner" might have given the South Koreans encouragement to take the case one step further, though.

"This," Jae said, "is our last resort."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press