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Sunday, February 17, 2002
 
Controversial pair might be bobsled buddies again

Associated Press


PARK CITY, Utah -- Two months after bobsled driver Jean Racine dropped partner and best friend Jen Davidson, the pair could be riding together again in the Olympics.

The woman picked to replace Davidson, Gea Johnson, has a slightly pulled left hamstring that could knock her out of Tuesday's race.

If Johnson can't go, Racine would have to choose another pusher and among her options would be Davidson.

"Jen is one of the four names we submitted," said Matt Roy, the executive director of the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (USBSF). Along with Davidson, Bethany Hart, Kristy McGihon and Shauna Rohbock could be paired with Racine, Roy said.

However, the U.S. Olympic Committee said Davidson is ineligible because she did not compete in the U.S. trials. According to the USOC, Hart would be Racine's only option if Johnson can't compete.

Sunday night, however, the bobsled federation insisted that Davidson was eligible and said they were seeking a clarification from the USOC.

Johnson, a former track and field heptathlete who was suspended for four years for steroid use, practiced with Racine Saturday but the pair had horrendous starts.

USA-1 had start times of 6.32 seconds in their two practice runs, almost a second slower than the two German sleds.

"Right now we're going with Gea, but we'll have to wait and see," Roy said.

Johnson was expected to test her hamstring again at practice Sunday night. Roy said bobsled teams are required to have three practices before competition.

Teams can wait until Monday night's draw to submit the names of their drivers and brakewomen.

Racine recruited Johnson to be her pusher in December when the driver became dissatisfied with Davidson's performances during the World Cup season.

Racine was widely criticized when she decided to dump Davidson just two weeks before the Olympic trials. The two had won two world championships together and were marketed together in TV ads leading up to the games.

Davidson filed a grievance against Racine in January, arguing that she should have had a chance to try out for the U.S. team. But she dropped it late last month. She is at the games as a forerunner, testing out the course for competitors.

On Saturday, she talked publicly for the first time since being dropped by Racine.

"It's been a daily thing for me, and I've been reluctant to talk because I'm moving on," she said. "I have no reason to go back, but it's been hard. I feel at peace with the situation. I'm not sure there was even a time there was anger, just frustration."