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Track CEO won't drop the baton on handoffs

By Eddie Pells
Associated Press / August 23, 2008
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BEIJING - The leader of USA Track and Field said the federation will conduct a "comprehensive review" of the way it trains and coaches its relay teams after the men's and women's 4 x 100-meter teams each blew medal chances by dropping the baton in Olympic qualifying.

In his weekly blog on the USATF website, CEO Doug Logan said he has received a number of e-mails from fans saying the dropped batons in both relays Thursday were "reflective of a lack of preparation, lack of professionalism, and of leadership."

"I agree," Logan wrote yesterday. "Dropping a baton isn't bad luck, it's bad execution. Responsibility for the relay debacle lies with many people and many groups, from administration to coaches to athletes. That's why, when these Games are completed, we will conduct a comprehensive review of all our programs."

Darvis Patton and Tyson Gay missed on the final exchange in the men's semifinal heat. Gay worked on exchanges with Patton in Beijing but was not present at the US team's training camp in Dalian, China, where two full practices were dedicated to baton passing.

Torri Edwards and Lauryn Williams bobbled the last exchange in the women's race.

The men missed the final for the first time since 1988, and the second since 1912, and the women for the first time since 1948.

It means the US will go 0 for 6 in Olympic sprint events - 100, 200, or 400 relay - for the first time ever.

"We could win the gold medal in every single track and field event, but if we don't win a single thing in the sprints and relays, the public will view our performance as a disaster," Logan wrote.

"When we drop the baton in back-to-back relay races, the public views our performance as a disaster."

Jim Scherr, CEO of the US Olympic Committee, said the track and field program can't be judged by only one Olympics.

"I think you have to look at it in the totality of what they've been able to do over the quadrennium in world championships and world cups and the Games," he said.

"When the men's marathon concludes [tomorrow], we'll still be the world's No. 1 team in terms of medal count," Logan said. "We can be a much better team. And we will be."

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