ATHENS, Greece – The U.S. Olympic Committee would consider supporting South Korea's bid to pursue a duplicate gold medal for one of its gymnasts to make up for the scoring error that gave American Paul Hamm (search) the all-around title.
USOC officials met with members of the South Korean Olympic Committee (search) and are trying to find an "equitable solution," Darryl Seibel, a spokesman for the USOC, said Monday.
"We have indicated to them that we would be willing to consider the notion of a second gold medal being awarded," Seibel told The Associated Press. "It's up to the Korean Olympic Committee to determine how it wants to proceed. There's a willingness to at least consider this idea."
Hamm won the gold medal Wednesday after judges incorrectly scored Yang Tae-young's parallel bars routine, failing to give him enough points for the level of difficulty. Yang ended up with the bronze.
Seibel said USOC officials also were consulting with USA Gymnastics, the sport's national federation.
Its president, Bob Colarossi, was in a meeting Monday afternoon and could not immediately be reached for comment. Jae Soon-yoo, an official for the South Korean delegation, also was in a meeting.
Any agreement between the USOC and the South Koreans would still have to be approved by the International Olympic Committee. IOC president Jacques Rogge said earlier it was unlikely his organization would step in because, "The IOC never intervenes in a ranking issue." That might change, however, if both parties agree on the double gold.
"The Olympic ideals are part of this," Seibel said. "Again, we're looking for a resolution that's fair."
At issue was the tenth of a point deducted from Yang's start value in the fifth of six events in the all-around. He received a 9.9 for a routine that had been given a 10 start value in team preliminaries and finals.
He finished third, 0.049 points behind Hamm, who came back from 12th with two events left for the stirring victory. With the extra 0.100, Yang would have finished first and Hamm second, and Kim Dae-eun of South Korea would have won the bronze instead of silver.
The International Gymnastics Federation (search) admitted the error, and suspended the two judges who determined the start values — Benjamin Bango of Spain and Oscar Buitrago Reyes of Colombia — along with the judge who oversaw the panel, George Beckstead of the United States.
But the federation said it would not change the results because the South Koreans did not file their protest in time.
South Korea promised to take its case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, although it had not filed its appeal as of Monday afternoon. CAS has already indicated it wouldn't take the case because it involved a "field of play" decision.
The case has brought back memories of the figure skating scandal at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002, when Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier were given duplicate gold medals after a French judge said she had been "pressured" to put a Russian couple ahead of them.
But there are no such signs of impropriety in this case.
Asked about the furor Sunday night, Hamm said he understood why the South Koreans were upset, but he didn't think a second gold medal was warranted.
"The people I'm a little bit upset with is FIG because this matter should have never even come up," Hamm said. "The rules can't be changed after the competition is over."
Hamm was to compete again Monday night in the parallel bars and high bar finals. The high bar final was sure to have added drama because Yang also qualified.
Giving a second gold medal would set a bad precedent, former U.S. men's coach Peter Kormann said.
"You don't get Olympic gold medals in a gumball machine," Kormann said in a telephone interview from New York. "If you go back and change that because of a start score mistake, that changes the whole thing. That tarnishes everyone.
"In the end, the system we use works pretty good," Kormann added. "If everybody follows it, it works pretty good. At the end of the day, there's always somebody who's unhappy with their score. And then there's another time you feel like you were overscored. It all comes out pretty even in the wash, and that's the case in any sport."