ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ France was awarded the gold medal in the three-day equestrian team event after winning an appeal with Britain and the United States against an earlier decision that gave the victory to Germany. The ruling Saturday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport means Germany drops to fourth, while Britain gets silver and the United States takes the bronze.

``I have just been informed of the decision,'' Gilbert Felli, the International Olympic Committee's executive director, told The Associated Press. ``The French and the others won the appeal.''

An official statement was expected later Saturday.

Initially, the judges gave Germany the gold and France the silver, while Britain took bronze.

But the same officials, concerned that Germany's Bettina Hoy might have crossed the start line twice on the show-jumping course, then docked Germany 14 points, dropping it from first place to fourth with 147.8 points in a decision that lifted the United States to third.

Germany then lodged a protest and an equestrian appeals committee reversed the judges' decision _ and the Germans reclaimed their gold. Again, France was awarded the silver and Britain the bronze. The United States was left empty-handed.

The appeal submitted by the three countries to CAS challenged whether the equestrian appeal committee had the jurisdiction to overturn the judges' decision.

The CAS panel assigned to hear the case was chaired by South African judge Deon van Zyl. Other members included Canada's Richard McLaren and Pandelis Dedes of Greece.