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S. Korean Gymnast To Have Case Heard

Appeal to CAS Centers On Scoring Error

By Liz Clarke
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 30, 2004; Page D09

ATHENS, Aug. 29 -- Having exhausted every available option, South Korean Olympic gymnast Yang Tae Young has appealed to an international arbitration panel to correct a scoring error that awarded the gold medal in the men's all-around competition to American gymnast Paul Hamm and relegated him to bronze.

The appeal asks the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to amend the results, which would demote Hamm from gold to silver and award the gold medal to Yang.

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CAS officials have appointed a panel of three arbitrators to hear the matter in Lausanne, Switzerland, "as swiftly as possible, consistent with fairness to all parties," according to a statement released by the organization Sunday.

But the U.S. Olympic Committee considers the matter closed.

"Both the IOC and the International Federation [for Gymnastics] have indicated there is no basis for a change in the results," USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel said. "We consider this closed. Paul Hamm is the Olympic gold medalist, and we are extremely proud of him."

The dispute over the gold medal is entering its second week despite the efforts of the International Olympic Committee, the International Federation of Gymnastics and the USOC to put it to rest as the Athens Games ended Sunday.

Hamm won the gold Aug. 18 with a stirring comeback after a tumble on his vault plunged him from first to 12th in the competition. The next day, South Korean officials protested the results, arguing that Yang had been denied a tenth of a point by judges who incorrectly assessed the degree of difficulty, known as the "start value," of his parallel bars routine. That small difference would have been enough for gold.

FIG concurred after reviewing videotape of the performance and suspended the judges who erred. But it refused to alter the results or direct that the gold medal change hands because South Korean officials didn't file their complaint before the competition ended, as required by the sport's rulebook.

Hamm, 21, has said he has no intention of surrendering the gold, maintaining he won it fairly and with the performance of a lifetime, but would do so if the sport's governing body asked him to. That prompted FIG President Bruno Grandi to write a letter to Hamm on Thursday pressuring him to return his medal in the interest of fair play.

Incensed by what they called an "improper, outrageous request," USOC officials withdrew their support of South Korea's efforts to convince the IOC award Yang a duplicate gold medal. IOC President Jacques Rogge later said a second gold medal was out of the question.

A spokeswoman for the South Korean delegation said the dispute was a matter a fairness and that both athletes had become victims of it. "Bringing the case to court is always the last resort," said Jae Soon Yoo, the spokeswoman.


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