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U.S. Bobsled Federation defends Lolo Jones' selection to Olympic team

Lolo Jones (right) (Christof Koepsel/Getty Images) Lolo Jones (right) has never won an Olympic medal. (Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)

NBC denied any involvement in Lolo Jones' selection to the U.S. bobsled team as a way to sell a ready-made star for the upcoming Olympics, despite assertions otherwise.

U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation CEO Darrin Steele backed NBC's claim on Thursday night, telling the Associated Press that Jones "absolutely" earned her spot on the team. Steele said the selection committee "relied only on data and results in making its picks," according to the report.

"...Steele [said] he even double-checked all the numbers that were pored over while deciding on the three push athletes for the women's team that will compete in Sochi," the AP report stated.

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The final spot came down to Jones and bobsled veterans Emily Azevedo and Katie Eberling. Eberling has won world championship medals and has three World Cup medals this season. Steele said it was "incredibly close" between the three, but inevitably chose the former Olympic hurdler.

And he said the decision was solely the federation's.

"Nobody put any pressure on us," Steele said. "We haven't made a single deal based on Lolo Jones.

"This is an emotional situation. She brings a lot of baggage with her. I don't see that side of her. I kind of respect that she's not guarded. The reality is it's easy to look for an excuse, especially when it's close. I can see the logic when people don't understand the sport. I'm a little disappointed with some of the people inside the sport who make the same statements."

Aja Evans and former gold medal sprinter Lauryn Williams are the U.S.'s three push athletes. All three are first-time Winter Olympians.

"At the end of the day, the selection committee, we don't look at Twitter or anyone outside our sport," Steele said. "We're more concerned about inside our sport. There's a lot of factors in making our decisions. Performance is the biggest one."

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