Great Britain Men's Gymnastics Controversy: Judges' Change in Ruling Is Dubious

Sam R. Quinn@SamQuinn_Senior Analyst IIIJuly 30, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30:  Silver medalists Kohei Uchimura, Yusuke Tanaka, Koji Yamamuro, Kazuhito Tanaka and Ryohei Kato of Japan celebrate during the medal ceremony in the Artistic Gymnastics Men's Team final on Day 3 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at North Greenwich Arena on July 30, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

The judges' decision that snatched the silver medal from the Great Britain Men's Gymnastics Team and forced it to trade for a bronze medal was nothing short of dubious.

By dubious, I mean that this ruling was somewhere along the lines of the basketball gold medal match between the United States and the Soviet Union at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Blasphemous officiating marred that contest, with the referees awarding the Soviets three separate attempts at a game-winning shot, which they wound up converting on the third attempt to beat the United States by a score of 51-50.

This most recent controversial ruling in the London Games isn't quite on that level, as the decision made impacted the second and third-place finishers, but the question as to whether there was evil afoot regarding the decision must be asked.

By no means am I accusing the judges of pulling for the Japanese team and purposely going after the Great Britain squad, but controversies don't become controversies without basis.

There are reasons as to why this decision was made.

One such reason may be due to the popularity and reputation of Kohei Uchimura, the Japanese gymnast whose pommel horse performance was in question. Uchimura is not only a celebrity in Japanese gymnastics, he's one of the most famous men in the country.

His run wasn't terrible, but his dismount was clunky and uncharacteristic. He was slapped with a shocking 13.466, but his score was challenged by Japan.

Now comes the part that is hard to stomach.

The judges accepted the protest and increased the degree of difficulty of Uchimura's routine. The gymnastics scoring system hardly leaves room for opinion and usually renders judges objective in their rulings, but the increase of the difficulty was subjective.

Perhaps the comparison to the basketball ruling was inadequate. This decision is more along the lines of Paul Hamm being awarded the gold medal or Dimosthenis Tampakos taking first place in the rings over Jordan Jovtchev in Athens.

It's not a ruling that is inherently biased or wrong, but it leaves plenty of room for questioning.

This one won't be forgotten for some time, especially because it was the hometown team that got the short end of the stick. Whether it was done in bad taste of good, the Great Britain fans will be asking about it for the foreseeable future.