ATHENS, Greece – The International Gymnastics Federation (search) suspended three judges Saturday for a mistake in scoring the men's all-around final, but said results would not be changed and American Paul Hamm (search) would keep his gold medal. The error in Wednesday's all-around cost bronze medalist Yang Tae-young (search) of South Korea a tenth of a point that would have given him the gold.
Yang received a start value of 9.9 on his parallel bars routine, a tenth lower than he received for the same set in team qualifying and finals. After reviewing a tape of the all-around, FIG officials determined he should have been awarded a start value of 10. He scored a 9.712 on the event. With the extra 0.10, he would have finished with 57.874 points and defeated Hamm by 0.051
Hamm won the meet over Kim Dae-eun (search) of South Korea by 0.012 in the closest men's all-around in Olympic history. Yang finished third, another 0.037 behind Kim.
USA Gymnastics president Bob Colarossi likened the mistake to protesting a bad call in a football game several hours after it was over. He said he didn't think this put an asterisk on Hamm's medal. Hamm scored 9.837 on parallel bars and high bar to close the meet and rally from 12th place to first.
"Paul Hamm's performance the other night was absolutely incredible," Colarossi said. "It's unfortunate the judges didn't have the right start value, but the FIG didn't have video replays" at the event.
The South Korean delegation asked for a review of the scoring after the meet, and FIG met Friday to look at the tapes.
Messages left for the South Korean delegation by The Associated Press were not immediately returned.
A FIG news release announcing the decision said that "The FIG rules do not allow for a protest against judges' marks. The judges' marks have to be accepted as a final decision and cannot be changed."
Still, the suspensions were necessary "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."
FIG did not release the names of the suspended judges, who will not be on the panel for Monday's event finals.
But Spain's Benjamin Bango and Columbia's Oscar Buitrago Reyes of Columbia were responsible for determining the start values. America's George Beckstead was the panel chairman, and therefore had ultimate responsibility for all the judges.
Yang is not competing in parallel bar finals.
The rules give countries the chance to make inquiries about scoring decisions, but those inquiries can only result in a changed score if they're put in before the following rotation is over. After that, scores cannot be changed.
"Judges can make mistakes. That's human," FIG spokesman Phillipe Silacci said Friday. "But it's like football. They cannot change the score once the game is over."
Silacci was not immediately available for comment Saturday.