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USOC forced to defend Lolo Jones bobsled team selection

Lolo Jones is a big name -- though in track and field -- so considering that the U.S. isn't as prominent in the Winter Olympics as in the Summer Games, who can fault the USOC for trying -- if that is what they did -- to increase the exposure of their bobsled team by naming her to the team? Quite a few, apparently, and that prompted the USOC to defend its decision on Thursday night, CBS Sports reported.

Lolo Jones
Wikimedia Commons

Bobsled and Skeleton Federation CEO Darrin Steele defended the decision.

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.

I haven't heard anyone making the argument about Lolo not being a better athlete right now, a better brakeman for the team. I don't think I've come across that one time. I've heard a lot about history and all that's nice. But who's going to provide the best results for the U.S. team in Sochi? That's the bottom line. And I'll have that debate with anyone who wants to have it.

Steele said that he hasn't heard anyone argue about Jones, but he didn't speak to Katie Eberling, who Jones beat out for a spot on the team. She believes there was an agenda to get the big name on the team.

I feel this year there was a certain agenda. 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.

Eberling will be in Sochi as an alternate.

Veteran brakeman Curt Tomasevicz was also against the Jones pick.

It's hard for me to name one or two athletes that would completely agree with that decision.

He added,

We're returning gold medalists and not getting much PR because all the bobsled attention is on Lolo. It brings a lot of attention to the sport which can be a good thing, but I'm not just sure who is benefiting from that attention.

Sportswriter Selena Roberts was very clear in her opinion: The decision was based on a need to replaced Lindsey Vonn, who is no longer going to the Games:

Now it's clear: This is the two-straw love affair that NBC needed after losing Lindsey Vonn. Lolo is the replacement star, the sex appeal sub for the injured ski queen, a hot storyline to ride down bobsled's serpentine track. NBC's convenience is another's conspiracy.

NBC denied the accusation.

This isn't the first controversy for Jones in her bobsledding career. In June of last year she was criticized when she posted a Vine video mocking the stipend she received from the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.

Jones may see this as her last chance at a gold medal. She failed twice to win at the Summer Games, including once when she was the favorite to win.