Try as they might, the Americans just can't seem to get that baton around the track in the 400-meter relay without some sort of misadventure.

First the men were disqualified at the world championships for making an exchange outside the allowable zone. Then the women didn't finish after Muna Lee pulled up with a hamstring injury.

It was shades of Beijing all over again, when the two relay teams dropped the stick at the Olympics.

"We're not panicking," said Doug Logan, the CEO of USA Track and Field. "To lose on something technical rather than on a speed basis is disappointing. We're going back to the drawing board and teach the rules of the relays better and practice better."

That's been attempted before.

In the aftermath of Beijing, Logan and his staff did a comprehensive study looking into what went wrong with the 400 relay teams after the baton clanged to the track not once, but twice. They established new rules and protocols.

Then this happened.

Logan can overlook the women's race _ that was simply the result of an injury. Lee pulled up and dropped to the track shortly after taking an awkward pass from Alexandria Anderson.

Lee was only in there because Marshevet Hooker was injured. And this came after Lee advanced to the semifinals in the 100 and finished fourth in the 200.

"Gutty performance," Logan said. "Muna says, 'Put me in, coach,' and pushes herself to an injury."

The men's race was a little more perplexing. The final exchange between Shawn Crawford and Darvis Patton was outside the designated zone. They were disqualified after a protest filed by Britain, which went on to capture the bronze medal.

"It's unfortunate. It's extremely unfortunate," said Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, the chief of sport performance for USATF. "I'm going to be very honest about this: I think there were quite a few people within USA Track and Field that were not as well-educated as we might be about the passing situation. That it was first touch, and not when the actual exchange occurred."

Is that what happened?

"I think there was a level of confusion among athletes and coaches about that," Mosley said. "That's being forthright and honest. It's not to point a finger at any one human being."

The Jamaicans, led by Usain Bolt, easily took gold, just not in a world-record time.

"There's no denying the fact my e-mail inbox is full of comments like, 'Here we go again,' Logan said.

The Americans thought things were sorted out after Beijing. There was confusion at the Bird's Nest with athletes not really knowing what leg they were supposed to run. The team fixed that predicament, naming the relay pool soon after the U.S. championships in June. That way, the athletes knew where they stood and could get in some practice.

In Cottbus, Germany, on Aug. 8, the relay team of Lauryn Williams, Allyson Felix, Lee and Carmelita Jeter ran one of the fastest times in history at 41.58 seconds.

Felix was going to step in and run in the finals.

The Americans never got there, though, as Jamaica won yet another gold.

To make sure confusion doesn't happen again, Mosley thinks clinics, not just more practices, are vital. That way they all can get on the same page.

Soon after the botched exchanges in Beijing, Logan said dropping the baton "isn't bad luck, it's bad execution."

This time, he's taking almost a more understanding stance. He's optimistic the kinks will be sorted out before the 2012 Olympics in London.

"One of the interesting things when I sounded a warning note on the heels of Beijing was a lot of people were telling me I didn't know what I was talking about," Logan said. "I think we've seen in certain instances the evidence of the structural problem. The goal is to (be better) for 2012, and the process we go through from here to there is a journey.

"We can learn from what we discovered here."