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CAS said it would consider appeal

8/29/2004

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."