Drama has followed Lolo Jones from London to Sochi.
Jones was bashed by her fellow U.S. sprinters during the 2012 Summer Olympics, where she failed to medal in the 100-meter hurdles. Now, after switching sports, the 31-year-old is back in the Olympics as a bobsledder, and some of her teammates are not pleased.
“It’s hard for me to name one or two athletes that would completely agree with that decision,” Curt Tomasevicz, the brakeman for the U.S. men’s squad, told USA Today.
Jones is one of the United States’ most marketable Olympic athletes, which some bobsledders say allowed her to receive preferential treatment from the selection committee.
“I should have been working harder on gaining Twitter followers than gaining muscle mass,” said Emily Azevedo, who was battling with Jones for a spot on the Olympic squad.
But although Azevedo and Katie Eberling, who was also in contention for the spot, both agreed that the decision to send Jones to Sochi was not purely skills-based, neither placed blame on the former track star.
“I feel this year there was a certain agenda,” Eberling said. “It’s no fault of my teammates. There’s been a lot of inconsistencies and that makes you wonder what’s going on. It’s not right.
“I know [Jones] didn’t pick herself. I know she’s not to be blamed.”
Darrin Steele, the CEO of the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, refuted these claims, stating that the decision was strictly based on performance.
“There is no doubt in my mind that people are disappointed that Katie and Emily did not make the team,” Steele said. “But it’s never about publicity or marketing. The best way to market the sport is by winning.
“We followed the procedure and I’ll stand by that decision all day long. It was a really close call. The numbers were close. There’s no question about it. That always makes it more difficult. The trending was going toward Lolo and she’s a great athlete and at the end of the day that’s who we think is a better brakeman for the Games. ”
The idea that NBC influenced the decision due to a lack of star power in these Olympics — especially with Lindsey Vonn sitting out due to injury — were dismissed as “preposterous” and “utterly ridiculous” by network executives.
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