Rooney angered by 'crazy' relay disqualification


Martyn Rooney accused host nation Brazil of betraying the Olympic spirit after Great Britain's controversial disqualification handed them a place in the Olympic 4×400 metres relay final.

Mystery surrounded the team's disqualification after winning their semi-final in emphatic fashion on Friday night.

The quartet of Nigel Levine, Delano Williams, Matt Hudson-Smith and Rooney came home first in two minutes 58.88 seconds, establishing themselves as strong medal contenders, but those hopes were soon dashed.

It emerged the reason behind the decision was that third-leg runner Hudson-Smith was deemed to have part of his foot outside the takeover zone when he started running.

British Athletics appealed, using video evidence provided by the BBC, but it was rejected after the footage proved inconclusive, meaning the officials' original decision was upheld.

European champion Rooney claimed Brazil did not deserve to be in the final, with Trinidad and Tobago and India also finding themselves disqualified. Brazil went on to finish last in the final as the United States took gold.

"I don't want to say it's corrupt because we don't know and I don't have evidence to say either way, but it's crazy how three teams are disqualified and Brazil have found themselves in the final," said Rooney.

"I understand they ran very well for them, but they didn't qualify for the final and that should be it.

Matthew Hudson-Smith was ruled to be in the wrong place (Martin Rickett/PA)
Matthew Hudson-Smith was ruled to be in the wrong place (Martin Rickett/PA)

"It's not in the spirit of the Olympics to go and look to get people disqualified. I feel like Michael Conlan the boxer, (I) feel it's a similar situation to that, but we don't have proof of it. It's a very bitter pill to swallow."

Conlan launched a foul-mouthed tirade after finding himself on the wrong end of a highly controversial unanimous decision against Russia's Vladimir Nikitin in their bantamweight quarter-final.

Rooney admitted the team were "very bitter" and "very angry" at seeing their medal hopes crushed in such heartbreaking circumstances.

Rooney lead the team home first in their heat (David J Phillip/AP)
Rooney lead the team home first in their heat (David J Phillip/AP)

"It's something I've never been through before," he said. "I felt we haven't done anything wrong, ran out of our skins and just had it taken away from us. It's just a very odd feeling. We're powerless to change it. Even though I know we're in the right there's nothing we can do about it, so it's a tough position to be in."

Athletics' world governing body the IAAF said in a statement: "The decision to reject the British protest was made late last night by the Jury of Appeal. Apparently it was a clear case."

For Rooney himself it completed a Games to forget after he crashed out in the heats of the individual 400m.

"It's been a terrible week for me," he said. "Individually I can only blame myself and now for us to turn it around and have it taken from us from someone above is a horrible, horrible experience and I wouldn't wish it on anybody."