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Hamm to keep gold despite error

Should American gymnast Paul Hamm be allowed to keep the gold medal he won because of a judging error?
Yes, the original result should stand.
No, Yang Tae-young is the real winner.
Yes, but Yang should be awarded a gold medal as well.
• Olympics 2004: Special report 

ATHENS, Greece -- Paul Hamm's dramatic gold medal for the United States in the men's all-round gymnastics was the result of a scoring error, the sport's governing body ruled on Saturday.

Hamm became the first-ever American to win the men's title in one of the closest-ever Olympic competitions on Wednesday.

But the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) said bronze medallist Yang Tae-young of South Korea had been denied the title by a scoring error.

The FIG suspended three technical judges but said the original results would stand.

"The FIG rules do not allow for a protest against judges' marks," the FIG said in a statement. "The judges' marks have to be accepted as a final decision and cannot be changed."

Hamm picked himself up after stumbling on the vault to score 9.837 on the horizontal bars, the final routine of the day, to beat Kim Dae-eun, also South Korean, by just 0.012 points.

But the FIG ruled that if Yang had been credited with the correct difficulty score on the parallel bars he would have finished ahead of Hamm by 0.051 points.

"The judges' error is confirmed by the FIG, the gymnast was given a start value of 9.9 instead of a 10," the governing body said.

"In order to protect the integrity of the FIG, the judges, and to be able to maintain and ensure the highest possible judging standard at the Olympic Games, the FIG executive committee has decided to suspend the three technical officials concerned pending inquiry."

The South Koreans, though, say they will take their case for Yang to be awarded the gold to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"We want fairness and justice in judging practice. Athletes are trying their best to follow the rules and judges should do their best to follow their rules," said South Korean spokeswoman Yoo Jae-soon.

"It has nothing to do about one of the judges being an American. That was just a coincidence. We want justice. We are going to take this to the Court of Arbitration for Sport."

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