The judging controversy surrounding the men's all-around gymnastics gold medal has taken another strange twist. The U.S. Olympic Committee has reacted angrily to a letter from the International Gymnastics Federation.
In the letter sent to gold medalist Paul Hamm, world gymnastics president Bruno Grandi asked the American to surrender his medal. Mr. Grandi said his organization has admitted a scoring error, and the true winner of the All-Around competition was South Korean Yang Tae Young.
But the U.S. Olympic Committee said on Friday the letter puts "outrageous and improper" pressure on Hamm. The USOC says it finds the attempt to be "so far beyond the bounds of what is acceptable" that it has refused to deliver the letter to the gymnast.
USOC chairman Peter Ueberroth says Hamm embodied the spirit of an Olympic champion in battling to win the Individual Men's All-Around event and vowed he will not give up in the face of this new adversity.
"We think it is deplorable," he said. "They are deflecting their own incompetence and their problem to a young athlete who simply came here to compete in the Olympic Games."
The USOC had supported a plan to give a second gold medal to the South Korean. The Korean delegation, which initially supported a similar plan, is now asking Hamm to give his back. International Olympic Committee chairman Jacques Rogge has steadfastly ruled out proposals to award dual gold medals in light of the judging controversy. Three judges involved in the competition have been suspended.