"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hamm Bros. Jumping through the Olympic rings

The Olympics are only weeks away and the scandals have already started.

The Hamm twins Paul and Morgan (b.24.9.82) are both back in the US Olympic Gymnastics team again.

At Athens 4 years ago Paul won Gold in the individual all-around competition , the only American man in Olympic history to win the gold medal in that event.

Thereby hangs a tale.

After 3 rounds Hamm held a good position but had a disastrous falll on the vault, nearly landing on the judges and he dropped to 12th position. However, numerous faults by the other gymnasts, combined with Hamm's performance on the parallel bars, returned him to fourth place after the fifth rotation. His high bar routine gained him a score of 9.837, winning him the gold medal by a margin of .012, the closest in Olympic Gymnastics history.

After the games The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) ruled that South Korean bronze medalist Yang Tae Young was incorrectly given a start value of 9.9 instead of 10.0 in the parallel bars event during the all-around final. Changing scores after the fact was a violation of the rules of the competition (under which gymnastic scores must be disputed immediately -- before the gymnasts move to the next piece of equipment, but certainly before the medals are awarded). So Hamm kept the Gold medal.

The whole matter became a great cause celebre and resulted eventually in Bruno Grandi, President of the FIG, stated that the FIG would not change the results of the all-around. However, the FIG sent a letter to Hamm in care of the United States Olympic Committee, stating:

If, (according to you [sic] declarations to the press), you would return yourmedal to the Korean if the FIG requested it, then such an action would be recognised as the ultimate demonstration of Fair-play by the whole world. The FIG and the IOC would highly appreciate the magnitude of this gesture.

In the letter, Grandi stated that Yang Tae Young was the "true winner" of the competition.

Yang filed an official appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), wanting his score changed and the gold medal. On September 27, 2004, Hamm and the USOC appeared before the court in Lausanne, Switzerland during a hearing that lasted eleven and one-half hours. Nearly one month later, on October 21, 2004, a three-judge CAS panel announced that the results from the Olympics would remain and that Paul Hamm would get to keep the gold medal. The verdict was final and could not be appealed.

All this of course left a nasty stink and General Mills announced which U.S. Olympians would appear on individual boxes of Wheaties "The Breakfast of Champions" cereal: swimmer Michael Phelps,16 year old gymnast Carly Patterson, and sprinter Justin Gatlin ("The World's Fastest Man" currently serving a four year ban from track and field for testing positive for a banned substance) . Hamm , who was in talks to appear on a box, was not chosen.

His brother Morgan helped the US team win a silver medal and also silver at the 2003 World Championships - when only 17 he had competed in Sydney in 2000.

The brothers dropped out of gymnastics but both decided to return in February 2007.

USA Gymnastics chose its teams for the Summer Games and amongst them is Morgan Hamm.Now we know that at the national championships Hamm tested positive for a banned substance. Actually, Hamm had doctor's approval to take an injection of an anti-inflammatory drug (Triamcinolone acetonide which is a prohibited glucocorticosteroid ), and by filling out a waiver form with the doctor's clearance, he would've been fine. Inexplicably, Hamm never filled out the form.

Now athletes are not dumb. The coaches, family, trainers, kids next door are not dumb. Even USOC members are not dumb. Everyone knows the rules, standards and protocols they must follow.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has given Hamm a slap on the wrist public warning. The national championships counted towards selection so interpreting the rules strictly Morgan Hamm shouldn't be packing his bag for Peking.

Paul intended to compete at the 2008 U.S. Championships, but was forced to withdraw after injuring his hand. After sitting out the Olympic Trials, he was named to the 2008 Olympic Team on a provisional status depending how his hand healed.

Morgan Hamm deserves a break is the scuttlebutt. Doesn't anyone else ? Pauls performance might suffer if Morgan isn't there.....

Tough brotherly love, but it also sends the wrong message not to draw a hard line here.

If Morgan is allowed to go - the effects will follow the US team all the way to China.

PS : Austrian tennis player Stefan Koubek lost ATP points and 35,000 Euros prize money from the French Open in 2004 for testing positive for Triamcinolone acetonide which had been injected. Remarkably it is used to mask hormones in US beef which is forbodden in Europe.

There seems no clear evidence but it appears to have been used as a doping mask.

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