America's battle of the baton ended before Carl Lewis ever got his hands on it, but a little "civil war" didn't stop the U.S. men's volleyball team in its surge toward gold.
The Olympics headed into the final weekend buoyed by Louise Ritter's day of lucky leaps after a lifetime of misfortune, the Soviets' resurgence to basketball supremacy and the prospect of a gold rush by six U.S. fighters and a relay team anchored by Florence Griffith Joyner.American Tim Mayotte lost his bid for the first gold medal in tennis since 1924 in Paris when he was beaten 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 by Miroslav Mecir of Czechoslovakia in the men's finals. Mayotte earned a silver while teammate Brad Gilbert and Sweden's Stefan Edberg each won bronzes.
Pam Shriver and Zina Garrison won the women's doubles title for the United States, preventing Czechoslovakia from sweeping both the day's titles.
Sixty-four years after compatriots Hazel Wightman and Helen Wills won the event, Shriver and Garrison downed Czechs Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova, 4-6, 6-2, 10-8.
The United States finished the day with 27 golds and 70 overall medals, narrowing the gap with second-place East Germany, which has 33 golds and 86 medals. The Soviet Union remains far ahead with 44 golds and 110 total medals.
Lewis lost his chance for a third gold and fourth medal almost the same way he won his first gold in the 100-meter dash - through a disqualification. The reason this time, though, had nothing to do with drugs.
Instead it was the trembling hand of Lee McNeill that apparently led to the 400 relay team's disqualification after it won its first-round heat without Lewis, who was scheduled to run the anchor leg Saturday.
The Soviet Union, France and Nigeria protested the baton pass outside the proper zone from Calvin Smith to McNeill, and the protest was upheld hours later by the jury of appeals of the International Amateur Athletic Federation.
"My hand was shaking so bad I gave him a shaky target," said McNeill, who had been in Lewis' anchor position in the heat.
The relay team, which had hoped to set a world record with Lewis running, looked sloppy from the start, with rough passes from Dennis Mitchell to Albert Robinson and then Robinson to Smith.
Dissension had wracked the relay team for weeks before the Games as Lewis tried to get his training partner, and eventual 200-meter sprint winner, Joe DeLoach on the team. Coaches, in turn, threatened to kick Lewis out of the relay he didn't stop "upsetting" the team.
Drug tests continued to intrude on the Games, the latest threatening the medals of two British athletes. At least one of the cases, though, involved a banned cold remedy available in any supermarket and commonly used for children. Olympic rules, however, ban the drug - pseudoephedrine - as a stimulus.
Sprinter Linford Christie, who moved up to a silver medal in the men's 100 meters after Johnson's disqualification, tested positive for the cold remedy after he finished fourth in the 200. His test was clean after the 100, but officials said he still could be stripped of his medal.
Judoist Kerrick Brown, a bronze-medal winner in the 156-pound class, was identified by a London television station as the other British athlete with a positive drug test. The banned substance was not named.
The latest cases brought to 10 the number of athletes caught in drug-related incidents at these Games.
There was happier news on the track.
Louise Ritter overcame all of her life's hurdles - rheumatic fever, two operations on her ankles and one on her knees, a broken ankle, torn Achilles tendon, anemia - before making the leap of a lifetime and becoming the first American high jump champion in 32 years.
"I knew immediately when I took off that I could clear it," Ritter, 30, of Dallas, said after soaring 6 feet, 8 inches to win a dramatic jump-off against Bulgarian world record-holder Stefka Kostadinova. "It was the best jump I had all day."
Afterward, she lay on the mat for a moment with her face in her hands. When she looked up, the crossbar was still and the Olympic gold, almost unbelievably after all her problems, finally belonged to her.
Several of the gangling, 5-foot-10 Ritter's earlier jumps rattled the crossbar, but each time it stayed up.
"For all the jumps I never got, today I got my share," said Ritter.
The United States, beaten at its own game by the Soviets in basketball, is looking forward to payback time in another American-grown sport after the men's volleyball team swept into the finals with a 3-0 rout of Brazil.
At the same time, the Soviets claimed the basketball gold by routing Yugoslavia 76-63 to earn their 100th medal of the Games.
Two days after a heated practice in which the U.S. volleyball players were nearly at each other's throats, the Americans crushed Brazil 15-3, 15-5, 15-11.
In Sunday's final, the defending gold medalists face the Soviet Union, which beat Argentina 3-0 in the semis.
Coach Marv Dunphy said the team was fired up in Wednesday's practice.
"It started off real well, but it ended up with the players fighting with each other," he said. "There was no blood spilled or punches thrown, but the players were wound up.
"Our guys have a tradition of fighting with each other in practice because of our training environment. We compete as hard or better than we do in matches, so you're going to have some disagreements from time to time. I make sure they settle the scores before they leave the gym."
"I was a bit edgy and I thought we were playing sloppy," recalled Steve Timmons, the 6-foot-5 star outside hitter. "I yelled out, `I think I'm going to explode.' People were kicking balls at the ceiling."
"A civil war in practice is not new to us," he said.
Even during Friday's game, the U.S. players occasionally glared or shouted at each other after lost points.
The Americans played their strongest match so far in overwhelming the smaller Brazilians in one hour and 10 minutes. The United States beat Brazil in the 1984 Olympic final and has won 23 of 26 matches since then.
Although volleyball was invented in the United States in 1895, the Soviets have dominated the sport in the Olympics since it was introduced in 1964. The Soviets won the gold the first two Games, a bronze in 1972, a silver in 1976 and a gold in the boycotted Moscow Games in 1980. The United States won in 1984 when the Soviets boycotted the Los Angeles Games.
Six U.S. fighters are in the finals, twice as many as any other country, and they hope to bring home win one more gold than the 1976 team led by Leon and Michael Spinks and Sugar Ray Leonard.