[Paleopsych] Four Articles about Paul Hamm, 2004 August 26 and 27

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Four Articles about Paul Hamm, 2004 August 26 and 27

[I support Paul Hamm and a single gold metal. The issue is respect for 
constitutions and the rule of law. Errors of judges abound in sports, and there 
are rules for dealing with them. The rules can be changed, and indeed Grandi, 
the FIG chairman, is considering several changes in how gymnasts are judged 
(this from today's Washington Post, below). I remember when three judges with 
three 1/10 second stop watches judged track and field events, long after 
electronic instruments were available to do a superior job.

[Sporting events follow rules. There is no direct access to reality about which 
is the objectively better athlete. There is only the judgment of fallible men. 
But the rules do allow for protest of judgments. There are, however, time 
limits for making the protests. These limits were exceeded in the instant case. 
No fraud, for which there are further rules, no doubt many-layered and complex, 
was alleged.

[Hamm was the winner, in accordance with the rules, throughout the two-day 
period when protests were allowed. He may not have turned out the best 
performance based on hindsight (though there are claims that there were enough 
errors against Yang that Hamm remained the objective winner), but such 
arguments cannot proceed indefinitely (as claims about the other errors would 

[There are statutes of limitations on most crimes, partly because evidence 
decays, partly because the desire for revenge subsides, partly because 
deterrence also subsides. Some crimes, like murder, have no expiration. I have 
no idea how long claims of fraud for gymnastics last.

[Should Boston University rescind Martin Luther King's doctorate? I have 
seen side-by-side passages that make it incontestable that King did 
plagiarize. The excusers say preachers often borrow from one another 
without attribution and that this is an accepted practice. But King 
specifically received instruction in graduate school about plagiarism. I 
earned my doctorate fairly and resent King posthumously retaining his, but 
I realize that such rescindments would be in danger of becoming 
playgrounds to enforce current political correctness.

[Hamm won the gold medal, as prescribed by the rules of the Olympics. The 
Olympic games are not played in a Platonic universe, where all perceive reality 
directly. They are played in an Aristotelian universe made up of fallible men. 
He should retain his medal and not sanction the awarding of a second one.

[Constitutionalism and the rule of law are at stake here, which is why I am 
covering a sporting event that has little intrinsic interest for me.]

        August 28, 2004
        Federation Requests Hamm Give Up Gold

        THENS, Aug. 27 - The letter from the International Gymnastics
Federation arrived hand-delivered Thursday night, more than a week after
Paul Hamm won the men's all-around gymnastics event and felt the weight of
the gold medal hanging around his neck.

        In the letter, Bruno Grandi, president of the federation, suggested
Hamm give up his Olympic title to Yang Tae Young of South Korea, saying
the world would view the gesture as "the ultimate demonstration of fair

        Grandi reminded Hamm that Yang's score had been miscalculated.

        "As a result," Grandi wrote, "the true winner of the all-around
competition is Yang Tae Young."

        If Hamm were to give back the medal, Grandi suggested, the
federation would applaud it. He added, "You are the only one who can make
this decision."

        Grandi asked the United States Olympic Committee to deliver the
letter to Hamm, but incensed U.S.O.C. officials refused. In a news
conference Friday, American Olympic officials characterized the letter as
"a blatant and inappropriate attempt" by the federation to pressure Hamm
to resolve the controversy.

        "We have reviewed the action of the International Gymnastics
Federation and we think it's deplorable," said Peter Ueberroth, the
U.S.O.C. chairman. "They are deflecting their own incompetence.

        "I don't know of any comparison in any sport where you crown an
athlete, crown a team and then say: 'Oh, that was a mistake. Would you fix
it for us?' ''

        Grandi also wrote to Hamm that the gymnastics federation, known as
the F.I.G., and the International Olympic Committee "would highly
appreciate the magnitude of this gesture."

        I.O.C. officials said they did not agree. "This is not the I.O.C.'s
position and we were not consulted about this letter," an I.O.C.
spokeswoman, Giselle Davies, said. "The position of the I.O.C. remains the
same. The F.I.G. documented and validated the results of the competition
and those results will stand." The South Koreans said they met Tuesday
with Dr. Jacques Rogge, the I.O.C. president, who had made his position
very clear.

        Hamm left Athens on Wednesday, and he could not be reached Friday at
his home in Waukesha, Wis. But his father, Sandy Hamm, said: "We have no
comment whatsoever on everything. That's it. We are done."

        In the days after the all-around event concluded, the gymnastics
federation acknowledged a scoring error on Yang's parallel bars routine
after reviewing videotape. One-tenth of a point had been wrongly deducted
from the difficulty value of Yang's routine. After discovering the error,
the federation suspended the three judges involved.

        After the South Koreans launched their protest last Friday and began
their campaign for a shared gold medal, Hamm was hit with a deluge of
questions, including whether he would give up or share his medal.

        On Tuesday, Hamm's final day in Athens, he said he felt alone, left
to stand up for himself during the controversy. He said his Olympic
experience had been ruined.

        "I felt really horrible that no one was defending me, not USA
Gymnastics, not the F.I.G., who caused the whole thing, nobody," he said.

        The U.S.O.C.'s chief executive, Jim Scherr, said the U.S.O.C.
accepted some of the blame. "I think we were at fault for not more
strongly, more directly, showing our support for Paul,'' Scherr said. "I
wish we would have done that more strongly and earlier."

        Early in the controversy, Hamm said he felt "in his heart" that he
was the rightful Olympic champion, but he said he would have agreed to
share the medal if the gymnastic federation had required him to do so.

        During much of the dispute over Yang's score, Grandi said the
possibility of a shared gold medal was closed because, according to F.I.G.
rules, scores cannot be changed once an event is over. Still, there was
precedent for a change. During the trampoline world championships in 2001,
the gymnastics federation changed Irina Karavaeva's results at her
request, after she learned she won the gold because of a judging error.
She gave up her gold medal.

        It seemed the gymnastics federation was looking for the same outcome
in Athens. But U.S.O.C. officials would not go along with it. They thought
Hamm had been placed in what Scherr called an unfair and "untenable

        They said the letter from Grandi was an inappropriate request that
only continued to cause Hamm grief during a time that should be
celebratory. Phone calls on Friday to the gymnastics federation offices
were not returned.

        Speaking to The Associated Press, Grandi said: "He deserves the
medal and his ranking is clear. I respect totally Paul Hamm and all the
decisions he makes. If he says give back the medal, I respect it. Don't
give back the medal, I respect the decision. He is not responsible for

        Yoo Jae Soon, a spokeswomen for the South Korean delegation, said
that she and her colleagues were frustrated with the way the dispute
unfolded. She said the Koreans had protested the scores to ensure fairness
in the competition, not to hurt the two gymnasts involved, which is how
she said things ended up.

        "The F.I.G. said they made a mistake, but no action was taken, so it
is the F.I.G.'s leadership's fault and they should solve the problem," Yoo
said. "Now Paul is the victim. Tae Young is the victim. Why did the F.I.G.
have to make it so stressful and put the athletes in the middle of all the
hassles and headaches?"

        Yoo said the South Koreans still planned to file a case with the
Court of Arbitration for Sport, in hopes of obtaining a gold medal for
Yang. In the meantime, they have requested a clarification of the rules
from Grandi. But after communicating with him solely by fax - because, Yoo
said, "Mr. Bruno Grandi, he is a very difficult person to reach" - they
have not received a response.

        On the United States' side, Olympic officials are fuming that Grandi
sent the letter in the first place.

        "It was a thinly veiled suggestion to our athlete that he should
solve the problems of the F.I.G. through his own actions," Scherr said.
"We find that request to be a callous disregard for the welfare for one of
their own athletes in the F.I.G., as well as our athlete, Paul Hamm.

        "We believe he has competed with honor and dignity and represented
our country well and that this matter should be closed."

        Hamm had won a silver medal in the team competition and came back to
win the silver medal in the high bar individual event in his final Olympic
event. But the controversy still turned his dream Olympics into a
nightmare, prompting him to leave a day early feeling like less than an
Olympic champion.

        "We believe that Paul Hamm competed well, competed within the rules
and did nothing wrong," Scherr said. "He took no improper action and
should have no role in solving this issue. He is the Olympic champion by
the results of their own statements. He will always be the Olympic


        August 27, 2004
        Grandi's Letter to Hamm

        Following is the text of the letter written by Bruno Grandi, the
president of the International Gymnastics Federation, to Paul Hamm:

        Dear Paul,

        Firstly may I extend to you and the USA team my heartfelt
congratulations for your magnificent results at the 2004 Olympic Games in

        I have addressed this letter to you after having read the following
statements attributed to you in the American press: "It was very hard to
focus after what has happened the previous days. At this moment, I don't
feel that I have to give back my medal. If the F.I.G. will decide that I
have to give it back, I'll do it. There are many different opinions about
what I have to do. I can understand my Korean opponent. I believe that
something is going to happen soon."

        This declaration, which gave me great pleasure, was made by a great
gymnast and true champion who has the highest ethical values. This act,
which demonstrates the highest level of honesty, places you amongst the
true Olympic champions. I wish to confirm that your words grant you the
highest possible esteem from the worldwide gymnastics family.

        I wish to remind you that the F.I.G. Executive Committee has
admitted the error of judgment made on the parallel bars and suspended the
three responsible judges, two from the A panel and the F.I.G. Technical
Committee member. Indeed, the start value of the Korean gymnast Yang Tae
Young was given as 9.9 instead of 10. As a result, the true winner of the
all-around competition is Yang Tae Young.

        If, according to your declarations to the press, you would return
your medal to the Korean if the F.I.G. requested it, then such an action
would be recognized as the ultimate demonstration of fair play by the
whole world. The F.I.G. and I.O.C. would highly appreciate the magnitude
of this gesture. At this moment in time, you are the only one who can make
this decision.


        August 27, 2004
        Statements in the Controversy

        Aug. 19 International Gymnastics Federation (F.I.G.) States that its
marks are accepted as "a final decision and cannot be changed."

        Aug. 20 South Korean delegation Files protest with the F.I.G. over
the scoring of Yang Tae Young's parallel bar routine.

        F.I.G. States that an investigation into the scoring of the men's
all-around competition has begun and that if judging errors occurred,
"appropriate steps will be made immediately."

        Aug. 21 F.I.G. Announces that its investigation finds that Yang
received the wrong start value on the parallel bars and would have had
enough points to win the gold. Suspends the three judging officials
responsible for the mistake.

        South Korean delegation Approaches United States Olympic Committee
about possibility of shared gold medal. U.S.O.C. agrees, but F.I.G. does

        Aug. 22 Paul Hamm "I guess it's up to them if I share the gold, but
I don't feel like that would be the right thing."

        Aug. 23 U.S.O.C. Announces it would not oppose awarding a second
gold to Yang.

        Bruno Grandi, F.I.G. president States that the results of the men's
all-around final would not change. States his opposition to a shared gold
medal. "I already made a decision."

        Philippe Silacci, F.I.G. spokesman "This is the end of the
discussion. There was a mistake, an analysis and sanctions."

        Aug. 24 South Korean delegation "F.I.G.'s sanction against the
judges . is not enough for us to accept." Also, suggested that Hamm could
offer to give up his gold medal.

        Aug. 25 Hamm After returning to the United States a day early,
appears on the "Late Show With David Letterman." "I would have been a
little upset if another gold was awarded."

        Aug. 26 Grandi In a letter published on its web site, writes to Paul
Hamm saying that the F.I.G. and the International Olympic Committee would
"highly appreciate" it if Hamm would return his medal to Yang.

        Aug. 27 Jacques Rogge, I.O.C. president Denies that neither he nor
the I.O.C. had anything to do with the letter. Reiterates that the I.O.C.
has no power to give back the medal unless the F.I.G. decides to first.

        August 28, 2004
        The Real Gymnastics Losers

        You can always count on international sporting officials to take the
cowardly way out of a controversy. The International Gymnastics Federation
is now implying, without quite asking explicitly, that the American
gymnast Paul Hamm should give up his gold medal to a South Korean
competitor in the interest of fair play. That is an outrageous abdication
of responsibility by officials who should have stepped in to rectify a
horrendous scoring mistake by their own judges at the Olympics.

        We say that, even though we had suggested earlier that Mr. Hamm
might "do the magnanimous thing" and give up his medal. But this is such a
complicated mess that it demands intervention by the higher-ups in sports.
Our own preference was for the International Olympic Committee to award
duplicate gold medals, one to Mr. Hamm and one to the third-place
finisher, Yang Tae Young. Characteristically, the I.O.C. ducked for cover
and said the gymnastics federation was in charge of the results. Now the
federation, which says its rules prevent changing the results so long
after the event, has put the onus on Mr. Hamm.

        That seems far too much responsibility to dump on a young athlete
who performed spectacularly and would end up with no medal in the
all-around competition should he relinquish the gold.

        Much of the argument over who deserves the gold has mixed apples and
oranges. The scoring mistake that deprived Mr. Yang of the top spot
involved the conditions that would govern the competition, not the judging
of performances. Officials assigned the wrong degree of difficulty, or
start value, to Mr. Yang's routine on the parallel bars. Had they assigned
the right value, the South Korean would have won.

        American coaches say a videotape of Mr. Yang's performance reveals
mistakes not caught by the judges, which would have left the Korean even
further behind. Maybe so, but no one has gone back and re-evaluated the
performances of Mr. Hamm or of another South Korean who finished a whisker
behind him in second place, so it is hard to know who might have benefited
or suffered the most from poor judging. Given the uncertainties and the
openly acknowledged scoring error, the fairest solution would be dual gold


U.S. Officials Reject Appeal for Medal

    Request to Hamm Termed 'Outrageous'; IOC Won't Award 2nd Medal
    By Liz Clarke and Amy Shipley
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Saturday, August 28, 2004; Page D01

    ATHENS, Aug. 27 -- U.S. Olympic officials rejected as "deplorable" a
    suggestion by the International Gymnastics Federation on Friday that
    men's all-around individual champion Paul Hamm return his gold medal
    and, in a sharply worded letter to federation president Bruno Grandi,
    castigated the organization for what it called an "improper,
    outrageous request."

    Meantime, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge
    slammed the door on the notion of awarding a second gold medal to
    South Korea's Yang Tae Young in order to ease the controversy that
    overshadowed the gymnastics competition. "We are not going to be
    awarding gold medals for so-called humanitarian or emotional reasons,"
    Rogge said.

    That essentially was Grandi's appeal in his letter to Hamm, the most
    decorated member of the U.S. men's gymnastics team. With the phrase
    "Fairplay" printed in bold above the salutation, the letter opened by
    congratulating Hamm and U.S. gymnasts on their results in Athens. It
    went on to recap the judging error that deprived Yang of a tenth of a
    point in the all-around final on Aug. 18, which would have been enough
    to vault him ahead of Hamm for the gold. "As a result, the true winner
    of the All-Around competition is Yang Tae Young," Grandi wrote. He
    concluded by stating that Hamm's return of the gold to the Korean
    "would be recognized as the ultimate demonstration of Fairplay by the
    whole world."

    Still, no medals changed hands on Friday, and it is increasingly
    doubtful that any will.

    U.S. Olympic officials were so incensed by Grandi's letter that they
    refused to transmit it to Hamm, as Grandi had requested, and held a
    news conference to denounce it.

    "We think it's deplorable," said Peter Ueberroth, the USOC's board
    chairman. "They're deflecting their own incompetence and their
    problems to a young athlete who simply came here to compete in the
    Olympic Games. . . . I don't know any competition, any sport, any
    place, anywhere, where you crown an athlete, crown a team, and say,
    'Oh, it was a mistake. Would you please fix this for us?' It's

    In addition, Ueberroth said U.S. officials were withdrawing their
    support of South Korea's proposal to pursue a second gold for its
    gymnast, who finished with bronze.

    Grandi said in an interview that he had considered the matter closed
    until Hamm was quoted in the media earlier this week as saying he
    would surrender the gold medal if the International Gymnastics
    Federation (FIG) asked him to do so. To Grandi, that reopened the

    "He could have said, 'I have won the gold medal, and the FIG just has
    to tell me whether it maintains the result or not' and not to make a
    statement that he would return the gold medal if we asked him to
    return it," Grandi said through an interpreter.

    Given the USOC's response, Grandi said he considered the issue closed
    once again. "For me, the matter at this moment is closed," Grandi
    said. "The FIG does not change the ranking and the score. He has won
    the gold medal. For me, Paul Hamm has won the competition. I will
    repeat it 10 million times!"

    That leaves South Korea with only one recourse -- the Swiss-based
    Court of Arbitration for Sport, which settles international disputes
    in athletics. According to a South Korean spokeswoman, an appeal will
    be filed shortly.

    Shin Park Je, the chief de mission of the Korean Olympic Committee,
    expressed empathy for both gymnasts in a telephone interview but added
    that he felt Hamm "should think of real fairness."

    "My athlete said, 'Paul's mind and my mind are the same. We are both
    suffering,' " Shin said. "I don't want to hurt Paul, and I don't want
    to hurt Yang. At this point, what can we do?"

    The controversy over the medal is now in its 10th day despite the fact
    that the gymnastics competition ended Monday and Hamm has since
    returned to the United States. Hamm's medal was hardly the only point
    of contention during the nine days of gymnastics competition at the
    Olympic Indoor Hall.

    Canadian officials protested the judging of the men's vault final in
    which Romanian Marian Dragulescu won bronze after falling on the
    second of his two vaults, while Canada's Kyle Shewfelt stayed upright
    and finished fourth.

    Russian officials drafted a sweeping letter of complaint over the
    marks given to Svetlana Khorkina in the women's all-around and Alexei
    Nemov in the men's high-bar final. Nemov, a 12-time Olympic medalist,
    dazzled the crowd with a breathtaking routine. And when judges gave it
    mediocre marks, the crowd shouted down the judging panel, halting the
    competition for more than eight minutes with boos, jeers and whistles.
    At the urging of FIG's technical director, Adrian Stoica, two judges
    raised their marks, but it wasn't enough to alter Nemov's fifth-place

    Grandi, the FIG president, said Stoica acted correctly in adjusting
    the scores during the competition. Asked about the crowd's angry
    reaction, Grandi said: "I wanted to kill myself, because the public
    was right. Mr. Nemov had no chance to win the gold medal, but of
    course he could have done better in the ranking."

    Grandi said changes in gymnastics judging were already in the works as
    a result. The judging of all the 2004 Olympic events will be reviewed,
    as will the sport's Code of Points, which assigns value to various
    skills. A new mechanism to reward exceptionally difficult skills,
    either by adding a bonus to gymnasts' scores or by removing the
    current ceiling of 10.0 for a routine's "start value" is possible,
    too. Such a move would be accompanied by more strict deductions for
    errors in execution, like those that dragged down Nemov's score for
    his daring high-bar routine.

    Grandi opened the door to further use of video review during
    competitions, but only to settle disputes on a routine's start value
    and not its execution.

    It was through videotape that FIG officials confirmed Yang had been
    unfairly denied a tenth of a point in his start value. FIG suspended
    the three judges involved but refused to alter the final results,
    setting off the controversy, saying that South Korean officials waited
    too long to protest the score. Grandi reiterated that position Friday,
    and said he knew nothing about an overlooked error in execution during
    Yang's routine that would have cost him two-tenths of a point, as the
    Americans have repeatedly claimed.

    "It is the first time I have heard this," Grandi said. But the matter,
    he reiterated, was closed.

    "Enough!" he said in Italian. "I want to sleep tonight."

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