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2020 Tokyo Olympics: U.S. mixed relay team reinstated after initially being disqualified over baton exchange

CBS Sports logo CBS Sports 7/30/2021 Steven Taranto
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After a faulty baton exchange led to their being disqualified from Friday's 4x400-meter mixed relay, it looked as though Team USA's hopes of a gold medal had been in the event had been completely dashed. But after further review, the Americans' ambitions in relay races are now back on.

On Friday afternoon, USA Track & Field announced that their team has been reinstated after originally being disqualified from the 4x400-meter mixed relay, which will allow them, after all, to compete in Saturday's final. The U.S. team had finished first in the opening heat, but were disqualified after officials ruled that there had been a bad baton pass between Elija Godwin and Lynna Irby. 

Race officials claimed that in order to receive the baton, Irby had placed herself outside the takeoff zone.

USA Track & Field appealed the decision, reportedly claiming that Irby had been in the wrong spot because she had been lined up there by a race official. According to the Associated Press, the team did not publicly disclose the details of their appeal.

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Although the overturn of the disqualification will give the Americans a chance on Saturday -- and also gives Allyson Felix the opportunity to win a record-setting 10th Olympic medal -- baton exchanges have long served as a bugaboo for the U.S. track and field team. Between 1995 and 2016, the men's track & field team botched a baton exchange a total of nine times, including one that resulted in a disqualification in the Rio Olympics. The women's team has also suffered from that issue, getting shut out of medals in 2004 and 2008 as a result.

Prior to their DQ being overturned, Godwin offered a lack of practice time due to COVID-19 protocols as a possible reason for the bad exchange.

"We do have to be a lot more careful than any year before," Godwin said in an Associated Press report. "If at the end of the day we get DQ'd, I know I'm going to hold my head up high because we went out and competed our best. I'm proud of all of our guys and girls."

The United States will now have the opportunity to compete in the debut of the 4x400-meter mixed relay in the Olympics, an event that they won at the World Championships just two years ago.


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