What is a DQ for a bad handoff? Lane infraction?

Japan 2020

TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 30: Lynna Irby of Team United States carries the baton while competing in the 4×400 Relay Mixed Round 1 on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 30, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)– The rules for track and field are vast. There are uniform, procedural, and competition rules that every athlete, coach, and the team must follow. Typically, the terminology can be confusing. Here, we will address the most common of the rules that may get misinterpreted by the casual spectator.

Stay in your lane, runners rules

To the observer, runners on the track have to stay in their lanes. The truth is, runners should stay in their lane, but there are exceptions that apply. Typically, in short races like the 100, 200, or early on in the 400-meter races, if a runner leaves their lane, they will impede another competitor.

Any competitor or participant responsible for jostling, running across, or obstructing another competitor or participant so as to impede his or her progress shall be liable to disqualification in that event. In races run entirely in lanes, each competitor must keep in the allotted lane from start to finish. In races run partially in lanes, each competitor must keep in the allotted lane from the start to the marked cut-in points. Unless a material advantage has been gained or the athlete is in violation of Rule 163.4, a competitor shall not be disqualified if he or she: (a) Is pushed or forced by another competitor to step out of the lane, or (b) Steps out of the lane on the straightaway, or (c) Steps or runs outside of the outer lane line on the curve, or on any straight part of the diversion from the track for the steeplechase water jump.

Rule 163 Paragraphs 4 & 5

Dropping the baton

Typically, when a relay team drops the baton, it gets disqualified. The reason is simple when the baton is dropped the event impedes other runners or the team doesn’t follow the procedure:

Where the baton is dropped in such a way that it moves sideways or forward in the direction of running (including beyond the finish line), the runner who dropped it, after retrieving it, must return at least to the point where it was last in hand, before continuing in the race. Provided these procedures are adopted where applicable and no other runner is impeded, dropping the baton shall not result in disqualification. Otherwise, if a runner does not follow this Rule, his/her team shall be disqualified.

Rule 160 Relay Races Paragraph 16

Sure, if you drop the baton, you will probably lose the race by chasing it down and returning to the point where it was dropped, but the team will not be disqualified as long as no other teams were impeded. At least there will be a record of your team competing.

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