Arbiters hear appeal of men's all-around

Decision on disputed gold expected in `next 2 weeks'

Olympics

September 28, 2004|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

Paul Hamm and his lawyers yesterday asked a panel of three international arbiters to uphold the decision to award the gymnast the all-around gold medal at the Athens Olympics.

During a nearly 12-hour hearing yesterday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport heard an appeal from South Korean Yang Tae Young, who wants international gymnastics officials to increase his scores and give him the gold medal and Hamm the silver.

A scoring error last month by judges cost Yang first place. He finished with the bronze. Yang's South Korean teammate Kim Dae Eun won the silver.

"We hope the decision will be made in the next two weeks," CAS general secretary Matthieu Reeb said after the hearing at a hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Hamm, the first American man to win gymnastics' biggest prize, said yesterday he will return the gold medal if the decision goes against him.

"This is the end of the road. Once the decision is made, it will be final," he said.

Few details were available about the hearing. All parties agreed to discuss the case only in general terms.

Yang was mistakenly docked 0.10 of a point on the start value of his parallel bars routine. Had he been given the proper score and the rest of the evening played out the same, Yang would have beaten Hamm by 0.051.

"The issue is whether this affected the result," Reeb said of the mistake.

The International Gymnastics Federation, known as FIG, acknowledged the mistake and suspended three judges for the remainder of the Olympics.

But federation officials say they will not change the results because the South Koreans didn't file a protest in time.

Last month, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said he would not intervene.

Jeff Benz, U.S. Olympic Committee general counsel, said Hamm's defense was based on three elements: that it was a "field of play" decision by judges and not subject to appeal; that the appeal was filed too late; and that it was wrong to assume the competition outcome would have changed with the alteration of one of the six apparatus scores.

"It's pure speculation as to how the event would have come out," Benz said.

Hamm said he is going to try to forget about the hearing until the decision is announced.

"I'm relieved the hearing is over. There were a lot of things that got cleared up," he said. "Hopefully, this won't happen again."

Late last week, FIG officials said they are recommending a revision of their points scoring system as well as the immediate suspension of up to four years for judges responsible for scoring errors.

The recommendations will be discussed by FIG next month in Turkey.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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