USA Track and Field has officially filed an appeal after the men's 4x100-meter relay team was disqualified from Friday night's final at the Rio Olympics.
The U.S. finished the race third but was disqualified because leadoff runner Mike Rodgers was ruled to have passed the baton to Justin Gatlin outside the first exchange zone of the relay, won by Usain Bolt and Jamaica. The DQ elevated Canada to the bronze.
Video replays show a clean handoff from Rodgers to Gatlin, but are less clear about whether Gatlin had taken possession of the stick before Rodgers got it inside the start of the 20-meter passing zone.
Rule 170.07 in the track and field handbook reads: "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."
Hours earlier, down on the track, the runners huddled around a TV monitor and nodded their heads when they saw the replay.
"It was the twilight zone. It was a nightmare," said Gatlin, who along with his teammates found out about the DQ while parading the U.S. flag around the track. "You work so hard with your teammates, guys you compete against almost all year long. All that hard work just crumbles."
Gay, who ran the third leg for the Americans, called it bad luck.
"It's always something weird, stupid, simple mistakes that always cost us, and I don't understand," he said. "We had great sticks in practice, great everything, and something so simple -- I can't say anything but bad luck."
If the ruling stands, it will mark the ninth time since 1995 the U.S. men have been disqualified or failed to get the baton around at Olympics or world championships.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
U.S. files appeal of men's 4x100 relay team's disqualification