Athens - Olympic Games medal dreams were gunned down, rescued and put on hold in Athens after a series of protests.

Nowhere was the sound and fury greatest than out on the athletics track and in the gymnastics arena.

Greek fans, still seething over the absence of defending champion Kostadinos Kenteris, held up the final of the men's 200 metres for several minutes by repeatedly chanting "Hellas (Greece)" and targeted boos and whistles at competitors.

The protest was sparked by anger at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the United States over the absence of Kenteris, who quit the games after failing to take a drugs test.

"What happened was an isolated incident," said Michalis Zacharatos, spokesman for Athens Olympics organisers ATHOC.

"I think the Greek fans have proved during the games that they have a sporting spirit."

Other areas of competition told a different story.

Booing spectators halted the men's horizontal bar final in the gymnastics arena for 10 minutes in protest over how points were awarded for a Russian competitor but it was nothing compared to what happened when America's Paul Hamm took the men's all-around gold.

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) suspended three judges in the wake of a scoring error that cost South Korean Yang Tae-Young the gold.

FIG officials ruled the judges were in error but that judges scores could not be protested and Hamm's victory would stand, causing a firestorm demand for a switch or a duplicate gold to be given.

American officials were later incensed when the FIG wrote to appeal for Hamm to hand over his gold to the Korean.

"The USOC finds this request to be improper, outrageous and so far beyond the bounds of what is acceptable that it refuses to transmit the letter to Hamm."

British rider Leslie Law was promoted to individual gold medallist in the three-day eventing while France were awarded the team gold after the two nations, as well as the United States, went to arbitration to have Germany removed as winners.

Germany won the tournament while Bettina Hoy took the individual title. However, France appealed claiming Hoy had illegally crossed the start line twice but then the decision was reversed and Germany kept their gold medal before CAS changed it again.

"This is not winning medals through the back door. It's about fair play," said British team manager Will Connell.

In the pool, world swimming record-holder Aaron Peirsol of the United States was disqualified and then reinstated as winner of the 200m backstroke after being initially accused of making an illegal turn.

A Hungarian fencing referee was suspended from officiating for two years after criticism of his performance at the Olympic Games while Romania's former world middleweight boxing champion Marian Simon protested after his defeat at the hands of Egypt's Ramadan Yasser.

"I was robbed by the judges," said Simon.

India's field hockey federation found themselves out of pocket to the tune of €1 000 after two appeals were turned down by the sport's world governing body following their 2-1 defeat by New Zealand.

"The FIH has made it a joke," India's hockey spokesman Anupam Ghulati told AFP.

Problems with judging continued in the final week with the taekwondo competition was hit by a series of rows.

Greece's world champion Areti Athanasopoulou lost to Thailand's Nootcharin Sukkhongdumnoen by a decision in the women's first round.

Her protest at the score was rejected.

"I'm so disappointed that I can barely hold my tears," said Athanasopoulou.