Britain will not have a women's 4x100 metres relay team at the London Olympics after they were disqualified from the European Athletics Championships and overtaken in the world rankings.

Only the top 16 nations in the world qualify for the Games and Britain arrived in Helsinki ranked 15th, needing a good performance in the semi-finals or final to hold off the likes of Poland and Switzerland.

However, Poland ran 43.13 seconds to reach the final and Switzerland recorded a national record of 43.51secs to overtake Britain in the rankings, with the quartet of Anyika Onuora, Montell Douglas, Hayley Jones and Ashleigh Nelson then running 43.51s to finish second to Germany in their semi-final - only to be disqualified for a lane infringement.

That all meant Britain dropped to 17th in the rankings with an average time of 43.675 - rounded up to 43.68 by the IAAF - with Switzerland reducing their average to 43.66.

Jones was the athlete who stepped outside of her lane on the third leg around the bend, with UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee admitting he had seen it clearly and knew an appeal would be a waste of time.

"It was always an accident waiting to happen that didn't happen here necessarily, it is a process over a number of years," Van Commenee said. "We have been underperforming in this area for more than 10 years and at one point you don't get away with it.

"I'm not really surprised, that's why I stopped the programme basically two years ago. I decided after Barcelona not to support the female relay athletes financially any longer because I didn't think they were going to be dangerous in London.

"It's a disappointment but at the same time I did not expect great things at all. I think it's a true reflection of where we are. We are not a top-eight nation in that area. We are somewhere between 15th and 20th and on the day we turn out to be 17th. That is the case in quite a few more events, in some events we are not even making top 20."