After A Rookie Mistake, U.S. 4×100 Relay Protest Gets Rejected

PHOTO: morguefile.com

PHOTO: morguefile.com

How embarrassing for the U.S 4×100 men’s relay team. They were disqualified for an illegal passing of the baton. I made a mistake like that… in the 7th grade! Didn’t they practice this? Besides running, isn’t this the ONLY thing they had to practice?

The U.S Olympic 4×100 relay team was disqualified yesterday in the finals when Justin Gatlin received the stick early from Mike Rodgers. The handoff was before the team reached the 20 meter zone and the U.S team was disqualified under the Olympic rules dealing with relays.

The disqualification came during the first passing zone on Friday night. According to IAAF Rule 170.7, “the baton shall be passed within the takeover zone. The passing of the baton commences when it is first touched by the receiving athlete and is completed the moment it is in the hand of only the receiving athlete. In relation to the takeover zone, it is only the position of the baton which is decisive. Passing of the baton outside the takeover zone shall result in disqualification.”

During slow motion replay of the event it appeared that Gatlin took the baton just within the 20 meter passing zone. The Judges did not agree and the U.S team was disqualified.

You be the judge. Is this within the zone?

“I see him throwing his hand back,” Rodgers said of Gatlin, “but I see when he has possession of the stick, he’s inside the zone. … It’s not a DQ.”

Many observers agreed. It seems like Gatlin touches the baton before the zone but actually takes possession of the baton well within the 20 meter zone. That would conform to the letter of the rule pertaining to “taking possession of the baton” within the designated zone. Others were not so sure. Some observers say that the pass begins as soon as the other runner touches the baton. Since the baton was touched before the 20 meter zone was reached, the pass is an illegal one and the disqualification is valid.

The USATF filed an appeal following the disqualification. The appeal was rejected by the judges and the U.S team went without a medal.

This is the ninth time since 1995 that the U.S. men have either been disqualified or failed to finish the 4×100 at world championships or the Olympics. Now that is just sad. It was widely known that the U.S had one of the strongest teams in the field. This is the type of mistake that might be made in 8th grade track and field, not at the Olympic level. How hard is it to get the passing of the baton correct? It’s not like he has to catch it. It’s not like the U.S. team needed any sort of unfair advantage to be able to win or medal in the race. They simply got sloppy and were not able to execute a simple pass legally during the race. Another medal chance slipped through their fingers as Jamaica won the gold and the U.S. team went without a medal in a contest it was favored to at least get bronze.

 

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