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Newz Forum: OLYMPICS: US would consider shared medal

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posted on Aug, 23 2004 @ 01:35 PM
The U.S. Olympic Committee would consider supporting South Korea's bid to pursue a duplicate gold medal for one of its gymnasts to make up for the scoring error that gave American Paul Hamm the all-around title.

But the International Gymnastics Federation would have to support such an agreement, and its president, Bruno Grandi, told The Associated Press on Monday night that cannot happen.

"I don't have the possibility to change it," Grandi told the AP. "Our rules don't allow it."

Hamm won the gold medal Wednesday after judges incorrectly scored Yang Tae-young's parallel bars routine, failing to give him enough points for the level of difficulty. Yang ended up with the bronze while Hamm became the first American man to win the all-around title.

USOC officials met with members of the South Korean Olympic Committee and were trying to find an "equitable solution," said Darryl Seibel, a spokesman for the USOC.

"We have indicated to them that we would be willing to consider the notion of a second gold medal being awarded," Seibel told the AP. "It's up to the Korean Olympic Committee to determine how it wants to proceed. There's a willingness to at least consider this idea."

Jae Soon-yoo, an official for the South Korean delegation, was in a meeting Monday afternoon and didn't have an immediate comment.

If the USOC and the South Koreans do reach an agreement, it doesn't automatically clear the way for Yang to get a gold medal. The FIG would have to ask the International Olympic Committee to award a second gold -- but that would mean FIG also would have to rewrite its rulebook.

Under current FIG rules, protests have to be filed immediately, and the South Koreans waited until after the meet to lodge their complaint. FIG rules also prevent scores from being changed once the meet is over

Grandi said the Olympics would be longer by a week if the rulebook was rewritten to allow such appeals.

"When that green light finishes, it finishes the possibility for the coach to raise their hand," Grandi told the AP, referring to the light that goes on during a routine. "It was finished."
At issue is the tenth of a point deducted from Yang's start value in the fifth of six events in the all-around. He received a 9.9 for a routine that had been given a 10 start value in team preliminaries and finals.

He finished third, 0.049 points behind Hamm, who came back from 12th with two events left for the victory. With the extra 0.100, Yang would have finished first and Hamm second, and Kim Dae-eun of South Korea would have won the bronze instead of silver.

The FIG admitted the error and suspended the two judges who determined the start values -- Benjamin Bango of Spain and Oscar Buitrago Reyes of Colombia -- along with the judge who oversaw the panel, George Beckstead of the United States. But nothing more could be done.

"I have no other possibilities," Grandi told AP.

South Korea promised to take its case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, although it had not filed its appeal as of Monday night. CAS indicated it wouldn't take the case because it involved a "field of play" decision, so the South Koreans approached the USOC about finding a diplomatic solution.

"All of this, it opens a whole Pandora's box of future challenges that aren't within the rules," said Peter Vidmar, the silver medalist in the 1984 Olympics. "What's the statute of limitations for grievances in sport now? There have to be rules."

Former U.S. coach Peter Kormann agreed.

"You don't get Olympic gold medals in a gumball machine," Kormann said in a telephone interview from New York. "If you go back and change that because of a start score mistake, that changes the whole thing. That tarnishes everyone."

The case has brought back memories of the figure skating scandal at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002, when Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier were given duplicate gold medals after a French judge said she had been "pressured" to put a Russian couple ahead of them.

But there are no such signs of impropriety in this case, only human error.

"After this competition is over, FIG needs to do a review of its policies for on-the-field review," USA Gymnastics president Bob Colarossi said. "I think we'll have some new guidelines and procedures to work under. Or, at least, some revised ones."

Asked about the furor Sunday night, Hamm said he understood why the South Koreans were upset, but he didn't think a second gold medal was warranted

"The people I'm a little bit upset with is FIG because this matter should have never even come up," Hamm said. "The rules can't be changed after the competition is over."

Hamm admitted the controversy has been a distraction, and he failed to medal on floor or pommel horse. He was to compete again Monday night in the parallel bars and high bar finals. The high bar final was sure to have added drama because Yang also qualified.

"It's a mess," Vidmar said. "The Olympic Games is a celebration of sport and every athlete should have a chance to celebrate their efforts. It makes it more difficult for Paul to celebrate. It certainly makes it more difficult for the Koreans to celebrate. There's no closure to it."

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