Hours after Olympic officials changed the results in the pairs figure skating competition Friday, awarding a second set of gold medals, a U.S. official said she will seek to reopen the case of an American boxer who lost a controversial decision at the 1988 Seoul Games.
More than a decade has passed since Roy Jones Jr. appeared to dominate his gold-medal bout against South Korea's Park Si Hun, landing more than twice as many punches by one estimate. The 3-2 decision in Park's favor has been the subject of lingering debate.
So when the International Olympic Committee gave duplicate gold medals to the Canadian skating pair of Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, who also finished second after a widely questioned decision, the president of the U.S. Olympic Committee announced she is ready for one more try on Jones' behalf.
"I don't want to do it here," Sandra Baldwin, who is also a recently appointed IOC member, told The Times.
"I don't want to take away from the athletes here. But I do want to have a dialogue about Roy Jones one more time."
IOC President Jacques Rogge was asked about the case during a news conference Friday. He was noncommittal but did not appear to rule out the idea of an appeal.
Jones, meanwhile, applauded the IOC's actions in Salt Lake City.
"It was the right thing to do and sends a clear message that bias and corruption in judging Olympic events should not be tolerated," said Jones, later adding that the decision also "gives my situation life. There's a possibility there still will be a gold-medal reward for me. It should have been awarded a long time ago."
According to a company charting the bout for NBC, Jones landed 86 punches to Park's 32. After the decision was announced, the South Korean boxer reportedly apologized to his opponent.
There were allegations of bribes and of paybacks for supposed pro-U.S. decisions during the 1984 Los Angeles Games. The issue resurfaced in 1996 with the discovery of files from the Stasi, the former East German secret police, suggesting that payments of unknown origin had been made to boxing officials at the Seoul Games. Anita DeFrantz, the senior American IOC member, called for an investigation and the USOC asked that Jones--who has since forged a successful professional career--be allowed to share the gold medal.
An IOC task force found that judges had received money from their Korean hosts but the investigation stalled thereafter. As a compromise, the IOC awarded Jones its highest honor, the Olympic Order, in 1997. The boxer was appreciative but said that he would "die with a little hope in me" that the gold medal might someday be his.
Baldwin said that Friday's developments might have revived that hope: "We now have a precedent that we didn't have before."
It would not be unprecedented for the IOC to go back and award a gold medal, even so many years later:
* Jim Thorpe won the decathlon and pentathlon at the 1912 Games but was struck from the rolls of Olympic champions after it was discovered he had previously played semipro baseball for $2 a game. His medals went to the second-place finishers, Hugo Wieslander of Sweden and Ferdinand Bie of Norway, respectively, who reluctantly accepted them. The IOC reversed its decision 70 years later, returning the medals posthumously.
* Fifty years after the 1924 Games in Chamonix, France, a Norwegian historian studied old records and found a scoring error in the ski jumping results. Thorleif Haug of Norway--an Olympic legend dead for 40 years--was demoted to fourth place. Eighty-three-year-old Anders Haugen of the United States received the bronze medal in a special ceremony in Oslo.
* At the 1984 Los Angeles Games, American Kim Turner and France's Michele Chardonnet finished in a dead heat for third place in the women's 100-meter hurdles. The bronze was awarded to Turner but several months later, after studying photographs of the race, the IOC gave an additional medal to Chardonnet.
* The Canadians were the focal point of another controversy during the synchronized swimming competition at the 1992 Barcelona Games. A Brazilian judge typed the wrong score into her computer and was not allowed to make a correction. The typo dropped Canada's Sylvie Frechette out of first place, but the IOC's executive board subsequently ruled that she should share the gold with America's Kristen Babb-Sprague.
Though much public attention is focused on such incidents, they are relatively rare when compared to the thousands of competitions held at scores of Winter and Summer games since 1896, said John Lucas, a professor emeritus at Penn State whose books on the subject include "Future of the Olympic Games."
Friday's decision and the ongoing investigation could lead to improvements in the way figure skating is judged, but Lucas sees no such benefits to reopening older cases. He wonders where the line would be drawn.
The same question occurred to Ed Ratleff, a member of the U.S. Olympic basketball team that lost a controversial gold-medal game to the Soviet Union at the 1972 Munich Games.
"People who know basketball and watched at the time, they know we should have won," Ratleff said. "The thing is, [the skating decision] is happening right now. Our game was 30 years ago."
For that reason alone, Lucas doubts that Baldwin will get very far with the Jones case.
"The Greeks in antiquity had a mythological story about opening Pandora's box," the historian said. "In every single case, dread and horror occurred when you opened that box. That's why I think no good can come of it."
Randy Harvey reported from Salt Lake City; David Wharton from Los Angeles. Staff writers Mike Hiserman and Eric Stephens contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed.