USA Gymnastics is thrilled with the performances of all of our athletes at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The nine medals won by the U.S. team, including the silver medal winning performances of both the men’s and women’s teams and the all-round gold medals captured by Carly Patterson and Paul Hamm, represent an unparalleled level of success for American gymnastics. They are important validations of the system we implemented during this quadrennium to support the efforts of our national team athletes and represent the commitment of our clubs, professional members, athletes, coaches, and administrators to make our sport better.
You are by now aware of the controversy surrounding the men’s all-around competition, a controversy that unfortunately shifted the focus away from where it should have been — on the extraordinary performance of Paul and our other medalists. In recent days, we have worked closely with the United States Olympic Committee to put this controversy to rest.
We strongly endorse the position of the USOC that the FIG’s request that Paul voluntarily surrender his gold medal is “a blatant and inappropriate attempt on the part of FIG to once again shift responsibility for its own mistakes and instead pressure Mr. Hamm into resolving what has become an embarrassing situation for the Federation (FIG).” The USOC found the FIG’s request “to be improper, outrageous and … far beyond the bounds of what is acceptable”, and so do we. [For more on the USOC’s statement, click here.]
Our position is consistent with the principles that have guided the actions of everyone associated with USA Gymnastics since the first moment we were made aware of the judging controversy:
- We would (and did) do everything we could to fight to keep the all-around gold medal that Paul won;
- We would, as required by the Olympic charter, recognize and be bound by any decisions made by the FIG or IOC, and
- We would honor Paul’s personal wishes, in terms of both any decisions he made relating to his response to the controversy and the role he wanted us to play.
Throughout, our unwavering support of our Olympic champion was based on one fundamental and important premise – the results as determined on the field of play must stand once the competition has concluded. This premise is primary to the integrity of any sport.
We will continue to celebrate the performances of all of the members of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team. Their efforts on the floor and their conduct throughout the Games have made our gymnastics community and our country enormously proud.