Gymnast Paul Hamm and members of Congress accused the U.S. Olympic Committee of failing to back Hamm when his gold medal was challenged by a rival gymnast during last year's Olympics.
"To this day I cannot think of any honorable reason why the USOC failed to support me and my medal flat-out," Hamm told a congressional subcommittee called to review the performance of the USOC. "Their own athlete had won the Olympic competition fair and square, by the rules on the field of play."
Hamm won the gold medal on Aug. 18, rallying from 12th place with only two events left to become the first American man to win the Olympic all-around. But two days later, the International Gymnastics Federation announced that South Korean gymnast Yang Tae Young had been wrongly docked a tenth of a point from the start value of his parallel bars routine.
Yang won the bronze medal, finishing 0.049 of a point behind Hamm. The extra 0.100 would have put Yang 0.051 of a point ahead of the American, but that assumes everything in the final rotation played out the same way -- a big if.
The FIG repeatedly said it wouldn't change the results, but Yang and South Korean officials continued to protest. FIG President Bruno Grandi later asked Hamm to voluntarily surrender his medal.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport eventually declared Hamm the rightful winner.
The USOC did come to Hamm's aid, but by its own admission should have mounted a more aggressive defense earlier. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who represents Hamm's home town of Waukesha, said the USOC left Hamm "hung out to dry" for days.
"The support system in place for an athlete should not be silent in a controversy that involves a competitor from an aggressive and vocal country," Sensenbrenner said.
Hamm said that when the controversy began, the USOC made no offer to provide either legal or financial assistance to defend the medal. "My family was told to start building a defense fund," he said.
But Jim Scherr, the USOC's chief executive officer, said the USOC wound up spending more than $400,000 defending Hamm's medal, including legal fees.
-- From News Services