Morgan Hamm off the hook


The U.S. gymnastics team member is relieved at the ruling in his favor.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Morgan Hamm’s spot on the U.S. Olympic team is secure.

USA Gymnastics said Wednesday that a warning Hamm received earlier this month for getting a prescribed anti-inflammatory shot without proper clearance from anti-doping authorities did not affect his qualification to the team.

“It’s really a relief,” Hamm told The Associated Press from Colorado Springs, Colo., where he is at a training camp with the rest of the U.S. team. “Now I can concentrate on gymnastics without having any other distractions.

“Everything is going really well, and now I can really focus on my gymnastics and helping the United States get back on the podium.”

As part of his punishment, Hamm’s results from the second day of the national championships — the day of his positive test — were thrown out. Those results, as well as those from the first day of nationals and two days of Olympic trials, were used to help determine the U.S. team for Beijing, so the men’s selection committee had to rerun its numbers.

The results were the same, said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics.

“There were two questions,” Penny said. “One, would he have advanced on to the trials? And the answer was yes. And two, would he still have been selected to the Olympic team? And the answer again was yes.”

The U.S. Olympic Committee agreed with USA Gymnastics after its own review.

“We fully support the findings,” said Steve Roush, the USOC’s chief of sports performance. “We appreciate USA Gymnastics’ efforts to respect and consider the interests of all of the athletes potentially impacted by this decision.”

In picking the U.S. team, the selection committee looked for the mix of athletes that would not only give the Americans three big scores on each of the six events, but be counted on to hit under pressure. Unlike preliminaries, where five athletes compete on each event and the top four scores count, only three athletes compete on each event in team finals, and all three scores count.

After the four days of competition at nationals and trials, Hamm had the second-highest score on high bar and fourth-best on floor, pommel horse and vault. In 2004, he was the only U.S. man to make it through the team competition without a botched routine.

“To have it confirmed and official that the USOC and USA Gymnastics certainly support Morgan being on this Olympic team, which I certainly think he deserves to be, it’s a great thing,” said Miles Avery, Hamm’s coach.

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