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Hamm ready to return gold
September 28, 2004 10:25 IST
Olympic all-round champion Paul Hamm said on Monday he would return his gold medal if the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rules a judging error denied South Korea's Yang Tae-young the title.
"If it is determined by the rules of gymnastics that I should give back my medal I will," said Hamm, during a teleconference at the end of the 12-hour hearing at a hotel near CAS's Lausanne headquarters.
"I thought everything went very smoothly today. It was a very fair hearing and everyone got a chance to say what they thought and we are looking forward to the decision.
"I'm just going to try and forget about it until the decision is made.
"Yang is a great athlete and the dispute doesn't involve his or my actions. I empathize with him and prefer that this could be resolved on the field of play."
In one of the biggest controversies of the Athens Games, the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) said Yang should have won the gold but was incorrectly docked a 10th of a point from his parallel bars routine in the final.
The federation suspended three judges but said it had no mechanism to overturn the final standings. Hamm kept the gold medal despite suggestions from the FIG that he should give it to Yang.
Hamm, the first American to win the coveted Olympic all-round title, was accompanied to the hearing by a large delegation that included members of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), lawyers and witnesses.
USOC general counsel Jeff Benz told the three-member CAS panel that there were several compelling reasons to let the result stand, including the judicial review of field of play decision-making.
"We argued that the decision making, that was at issue, was a field of play decision that could not be subject to review by the Court of Arbitration for sport," said Benz.
"The second basic argument we made is that the start value for Mr. Yang's parallel bars routine was made late.
"We argued that it was well-accepted practise within the sport of gymnastics that such a filing had to be made well before the conclusion of the event and that the delegation representing Mr. Yang failed to do so in timely manner.
"We argued that to change the outcome of the all-round event based on the mathematical computation in a single part of that event would result in pure speculation of how the event would have come out."
Even if CAS rules in favor of Hamm, the 22-year-old acknowledged he would always have to defend his win.
"When this is all over, I would like some type of apology from FIG, from (FIG president) Bruno Grandi, from somebody," Hamm said."No one in the world will ever completely agree that I won the gold medal. It'll be that way for the rest of my life and I've got to live with it."