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Friday, August 27, 2004
Rogge wants judging to improve

Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- The International Olympic Committee rejected South Korea's request to have a duplicate gold medals awarded in men's all-around gymnastics because of a scoring mistake that gave the title to American Paul Hamm.

The IOC also turned down an official German petition for duplicate gold medals following a judging error in three-day equestrian competition.

"We are not going to give medals for so-called humanitarian or emotional reasons,'' IOC president Jacques Rogge said Friday at a breakfast meeting with reporters.

Rogge said the IOC will consult with international sports federations to see how judging and scoring can be improved, and that gymnastics has already agreed to revise its rules.

Hamm won the gold last week after judges incorrectly scored Yang Tae-young's parallel bars routine, failing to give the South Korean enough points for the level of difficulty. Yang ended up with the bronze but would have won the competition if the scoring had been correct.

The international gymnastics federation, known as FIG, apologized for the mistake and suspended three judges, but said it couldn't change the results under its rules.

Germany, meanwhile, lost two equestrian three-day event golds after a technical judging mistake. France, Britain and the United States won an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"There was a huge Korean push to have a second medal, and a huge German push to have a second medal, but we said no," Rogge said. "You can't stop national Olympic committees from asking for more medals; this will never stop. The IOC will be consistent and say no."

Jae Soon-yoo, spokeswoman for the South Korean delegation, said the Koreans met with Rogge on Tuesday.

"Dr. Rogge made it very clear that dual golds were not acceptable by the IOC," she said. "Again, it's up to the FIG. He made his principles very clear."

Two years ago at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the IOC awarded duplicate gold medals to Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier after a French judge said she was pressured to put a Russian couple ahead of them in the pairs skating event.

Rogge reiterated that the judging cases in Athens are not comparable to the Salt Lake scandal.

"The IOC is very consistent in its position: as long as the federation gives a result, and as long as there is no proof of manipulation or corruption, we will accept the result," he said. "We accept that human error is unavoidable in judging and refereeing."

But Rogge added the IOC will meet with the federations after the games to consider ways of improving the judging. He noted that boxing and figure skating have adopted computerized scoring systems to eliminate subjective judging, and suggested other sports could do the same.

"FIG already agreed they will have to change their way of judging," Rogge said. "We'll discuss with them how."

On another issue, Rogge also said the IOC had been assured that an Iranian judo athlete did not refuse to fight an Israeli opponent.

Arash Miresmaeili, a favorite in the under 146-pound (66 kg) class, had been quoted in official Iranian media as saying he wouldn't compete against an Israeli. Iran does not recognize Israel and bans any contact with the Jewish state.

Miresmaeili failed to meet the weight requirement for a bout with Israel's Ehud Vaks and was disqualified. Iranian government officials were quoted by state media as congratulating him for declining to compete against the Israeli.