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South Koreans lodge appeal over Hamm

By Pritha Sarkar
August 29, 2004 18:58 IST
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South Korea appealed to sport's supreme legal body on Sunday in an attempt to secure the Olympic gymnastics all-round gold medal for Yang Tae-young, who was robbed of the title 11 days ago by a scoring error.

Paul Hamm, who became the first American man to win the Olympic all-round title, should not have been awarded the gold, the governing body of gymnastics (FIG) ruled last Saturday.

Despite admitting the error, the FIG refused to redistribute the medals and the Koreans have now applied to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to overturn the federation's decision.

CAS spokesman Matthieu Reeb said although its decisions are usually made public in 24 hours, it might take longer to evaluate an outcome in the Korean's case due to the technicalities involved.

"He (Yang) wants this very obvious misjudgment to be corrected ... that's not Paul Hamm's medal, that's his own medal," Korean delegation spokeswoman Yoo Jae-soon said on Thursday. "It is a matter of basic fairness and justice."

The gymnastics federation suspended three judges for the scoring error and even requested Hamm to hand the medal back on Friday in a gesture of 'fairplay'.

The U.S. Olympic committee reacted angrily to FIG's suggestion and said Hamm was the legitimate winner of the competition.

FIG admitted Yang had been unfairly docked a 10th of a point from his parallel bars routine during the all-round final, which left Hamm claiming the crown with a score of 57.823. Yang finished third on 57.774.

However, had Yang been credited with the correct difficulty score, the South Korean would have finished with a total of 57.874, 0.051 of a point ahead of his American rival.

Without the mistake, Hamm would have earned silver and Yang's teammate Kim Dae-eun would have dropped to bronze.

According to the rules of the federation, competitors can query the start value of a performance but it must be made no later than one rotation after the routine in question.

FIG said the South Koreans failed to lodge a protest in time. However, the South Koreans state they noticed the error immediately but were asked to file their complaint after the competition had ended.
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Pritha Sarkar
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