The pair recorded the same time, but a photo revealed that Drysdale had won by millimetres to successfully defend his Olympic crown.
Even rowing legend Sir Steve Redgrave was left baffled, while two-time Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell called for another race.
“I don't understand. We don't get dead heats,” Redgrave said on BBC. “If they can separate it on a photograph then they have got to be able to separate it on time.”
Drysdale admitted himself that there could be a case for both rowers to pick up gold.
"It was painful. I got a good lead and thought I was comfortable but he started to close me down and I had to pull a sprint out,” he said.
"I had no idea [if I'd won]. I didn't even look I just knew I had to cross the line. If they can't separate us maybe there is a case for both of us getting gold medals."