- (Photo: Reuters)
A male American bobsledder has called out Lolo Jones and the national bobsledding federation's decision to have the converted hurdler race for the U.S. team after a disappointing first two heats at the Olympic Sochi Games.
Jones and pilot Jazmine Fenlator ended up 11th out of 19 at the women's bobsledding competition Tuesday, halfway through the entire sport for the Sochi Games. U.S. Olympian Chuck Berkeley criticized the U.S. Bobsled & Skeleton Federation's decision to give Jones a spot on the Olympic bobsledding team. This criticism has been repeated recently, with many Olympic hopefuls arguing Jones was chosen for her popularity rather than her skill.
"Absolutely no doubt that @KatieEberling would have done better for USA3. Hope the marketing dollars were worth it. #merit #Olympics2014," Berkeley tweeted. The former Olympian, who did not make the cut for this year's final team, was referencing another female bobsledder, Katie Eberling, who is currently serving as an alternate at the games.
Berkeley elaborated on his tweet in an interview with The Associated Press, when he said he thinks the selection process for the Olympic Games is corrupt and based mostly on an athlete's popularity.
"I get that people want to latch on to a media sensation and run wild," Berkeley said. "But it comes down to this: There are athletes who deserve to be there who are not there, on the women's and the men's sides. And you have to ask yourself why is that the case. What is wrong with the selection process? Why is it flawed? Why is it corrupt?"
In response to Berkeley's criticism, U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation CEO Darrin Steele clarified to the AP that he stands behind the federation's choices on who should race at the Games.
This is not the first time Jones has received criticism for her spot on the Olympic team. When her selection was announced last month, Emily Azevedo, another top contender for the women's team, told USAToday, "I should have been working harder on gaining Twitter followers than gaining muscle mass."
Eberling added that she felt there was a "certain agenda" to put Jones 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."