Paul Hamm's gold medal has lost some of its luster.
A mistake in scoring of the all-around gymnastics final cost Yang Tae-young the gold that ended up going to Hamm, the International Gymnastics
Federation said Saturday. The South Korean got the bronze instead.
Three judges were suspended, but the FIG said results would not be changed and Hamm would keep his gold medal.
The error Wednesday cost Yang a tenth of a point on his parallel bars score that made the difference between third and first. But South Korea failed
to lodge a protest during the event, so the scoring was not changed.
USA Gymnastics president Bob Colarossi compared the mistake to a bad call in football that wasn't discovered until after the game.
He insisted the FIG decision would not put an asterisk on the gold medal. Hamm scored 9.837 on parallel bars and high bar to close the meet, rallying
from 12th place to first and becoming the first American man to win the event.
"Paul Hamm's performance the other night was absolutely incredible,'' Colarossi said. "It's unfortunate the judges didn't have the right start value,
but the FIG didn't have video replays'' at the event.
A start value is based on the difficulty of the routine. Yang received a start value of 9.9 on parallel bars, a tenth lower than he got for the same
routine in team qualifying and finals.
After reviewing a tape of the all-around, FIG officials determined Yang should have been awarded a start value of 10. With the extra 0.10, he would
have finished with 57.874 points and defeated Hamm by 0.051.
Hamm, practicing Saturday for event finals, was not available for comment. He was asked Thursday about the judging and his close victory.
"I feel like I just barely edged them out,'' he said. "If you go back and look at the tapes, people can analyze it, and they'll all come to that
conclusion, I think.''
The case brought back memories of the figure skating scandal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. A French 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
In Athens, however, there were so signs of impropriety. The scoring error was made with one event left, and there was no way the judges could have
known the significance of reducing Yang's start value on the parallel bars.
Hamm won the meet over Kim Dae-eun of South Korea by 0.012 in the closest men's all-around in Olympic history. Yang was 0.049 behind Hamm.
The South Korean delegation asked for a review of the scoring after the meet, and FIG's executive committee met Friday to look at the tapes.
Messages left for the South Korean delegation by The Associated Press were not immediately returned.
A FIG news release announcing the decision said that "The FIG rules do not allow for a protest against judges' marks. The judges' marks have to be
accepted as a final decision and cannot be changed.''
Still, the suspensions were necessary "to protect the integrity of the FIG, the judges, and to be able to maintain and ensure the highest possible
judging standard at the Olympic Games.''
FIG did not release the names of the suspended judges, who will not be on the panel for event finals.
But Spain's Benjamin Bango and Columbia's Oscar Buitrago Reyes were responsible for determining the start values. America's George Beckstead was the
panel chairman, and therefore had ultimate responsibility for all the judges. But because the other judges agreed on the 9.9 start value, Beckstead
would have had no cause to step in.
Countries can complain about the scoring but only before the following rotation is over. After that, scores cannot be changed.
"Judges can make mistakes. That's human,'' FIG spokesman Phillipe Silacci said Friday. "But it's like football. They cannot change the score once the
game is over.''
Silacci was not immediately available for comment Saturday.