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Former track star? Nope, this bobsledder played football

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Aja Evans. Lolo Jones. Ryan Bailey. They all have one thing in common: they took their skills from the track to the bobsled slope. The 2018 U.S. bobsled team is stocked with former track stars (see Evans, Bailey and Chris Kinney), but another squad member is crossing over from another sport — Sam McGuffie got his start on the football field.

McGuffie, who’s high school football reel is filled with outlandish highlights, played collegiately at the University of Michigan and Rice University, and was signed by the Oakland Raiders in 2013. He was subsequently waived, but had stints on the practice squad for the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots. The bobsled was calling his name, though. By 2015, he was a member of the USA Bobsled National Team.

NBCOlympics.com: 2018 U.S. Olympic bobsled team

He will be on both the two-man and four-man bobsled teams for Team USA starting February 18 as a crewman for pilot Codie Bascue. He’s not the only former football player on the roster — Carlo Valdez played at UCLA. But McGuffie player has been turning heads within the bobsled community in the lead up to PyeongChang thanks to his athleticism — and it seems he’s a perfect fit for the sledding world.

“He insanely gifted,” Bascue said. “He is also the most natural athlete I have ever seen.”

McGuffie has been showing off that athleticism since he was hurdling would-be tacklers on the football field not that long ago. He knows his quickness that he honed in football is a good thing. “When you are a running back,” he told reporters on a conference call in January, “you have to explode through the hole. That’s what I do in bobsled.”

“He’s like a cheetah,” U.S. bobsled head coach Brian Shimer said. “He just steps up and is about as explosive of a guy as I’ve ever seen.”

McGuffie is even drawing comparisons to one of bobsled’s biggest stars: Aja Evans. In fact, the Olympic bronze medalist compared McGuffie to herself. “I feel like he is the male version of me with his explosiveness and dynamic power,” she said. “To watch him do so many things with that pop and power is pretty cool.”

NBCOlympics.com: Meet Team USA’s bodybuilder-turned-bobsledder

Like Evans, who was a five-time All-American on the track for the University of Illinois, McGuffie was on the track team in college, too. While football was his specialty, he competed in everything from the 60-meter hurdles to the pole vault. He’s hoping he can be like her on one more way, too: by winning an Olympic medal. Team USA won four medals in the bobsled in Sochi, three bronze and one silver.

No matter the result, McGuffie is already looking to the future, and how he could possibly make another team — this time in the 2020 Summer Games in rugby. “The next Summer Games is in Tokyo,” he said. “It would be kinda cool if I can do that.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to his bobsled brethren.

“We are glad that we can have him,” Valdes said. “He definitely still has NFL potential if he still wanted to do that. Or if he wanted to do something else, he would probably be good at that, too. Like rugby.”

Seth Rubinroit contributed reporting to this story. 

Lawsuit alleges USA Diving ignored sex abuse of divers

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two former divers are suing USA Diving, accusing the national governing body of ignoring or obstructing inquiries into allegations that a coach sexually abused them when they were young athletes dreaming of Olympic glory.

The federal lawsuit, filed last week, names Indianapolis-based USA Diving, Inc., the Ohio State University Diving Club and Will Bohonyi.

The suit alleges that Bohonyi, who had coached at the Ohio State University Diving Club and was fired in 2014, coerced and forced the divers into frequent sex, telling them, “You owe me this,” the Indianapolis Star reported.

Calls to a telephone listing for Bohonyi’s most recent Columbus, Ohio, address went unanswered.

USA Diving declined to comment Monday, with a spokeswoman saying that, “Providing a safe environment for our members is of tremendous importance to USA Diving, and we take these matters very seriously.”

Ohio State spokesman Ben Johnson said the school opened an administrative investigation in 2014 after learning about the allegations against Bohonyi and he was fired in August 2014.

The university said Bohonyi was hired as a part-time, paid assistant diving coach in September 2012 and remained in that role until his termination.

Bohonyi has been on USA Diving’s list of banned coaches since 2015, but the lawsuit alleges that action didn’t happen until six months after Ohio State University investigated one of the women’s allegations and fired him. The report, the suit contends, was provided to USA Diving.

During that time period, it alleges that Bohonyi forced that girl — an Olympic hopeful — to perform sex acts numerous times while she was a minor.

She also sent him hundreds of naked photos, the suit alleges, saying that Bohonyi “psychologically coerced” her into believing that she “was required to perform sexual services in exchange for her continued involvement in diving.”

“He preyed on her age, vulnerability, and dreams of becoming an Olympian, and used the power structure and imbalance of power (coach/athlete) to make her believe she was required to sexually service him in exchange for her involvement in diving for Team USA,” it alleges.

The suit also alleges that Ohio State has had possession of the naked photos for almost four years and “no action has been taken.”

Ohio State said it notified campus police, USA Diving and Franklin County Children’s Services, as well as law enforcement in Montgomery County, Maryland, where the lawsuit says teammates discovered the diver’s sexual relationship with Bohonyi at a national competition.

Johnson said Monday that a campus police investigation was opened in August 2014 and then closed at the complainant’s request before being reopened this January, also at the former diver’s request.

He said university police are working with the county prosecutor’s office in that pending investigation.

Allegations of sexual misconduct also are the focus of a separate, independent investigation pending about a now-dead Ohio State team doctor accused of groping male athletes and other students decades ago.

The physician, Richard Strauss, worked at Ohio State for two decades before retiring in 1998. The university says allegations against Strauss have been raised by former athletes from 14 sports. The independent investigators are reviewing those claims and well as whether the university knew of concerns about Strauss.

The other diver named in the lawsuit alleges that starting in 2009, that Bohonyi, who was her coach, cultivated an abusive relationship, eventually coercing her into daily sex.

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Usain Bolt set to join Australian soccer team

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Usain Bolt agreed in principle to join an Australian soccer team in the nation’s top division, the Central Coast Mariners, a soccer agent said Tuesday.

“The deal between the Mariners and Usain Bolt, in principle, has been agreed, subject to a couple of benchmarks, namely a trial and, of course, some marquee funds support from the FFA [Australian Football Federation],” agent Tony Rallis said in a radio interview. “They understand that he has to go through six weeks of a trial.”

The eight-time Olympic champion Bolt has long harbored dreams of playing pro soccer.

Since retiring last summer, the 31-year-old Jamaican has trained alongside club teams in South Africa, Jamaica and Norway, plus had a much-publicized visit with Borussia Dortmund in March. Bolt and Dortmund share an apparel sponsor in Puma.

“This bloke’s an ambitious athlete,” Rallis said. “You know, the A-League needed a hero, and we got Superman. … If he’s competitive, he will lift our A-League profile, he will create dreams of young people and he will give the A-League a profile no amount of money can buy,”

The Central Coast Mariners, based in Gosford in New South Wales, won four matches and lost 15 last season, finishing 10th in the 10-team A-League. There is no relegation in Australian soccer.

“There’s still a lot of work to do in regards to understanding exactly how the deal would work out and how things would look, but things are very positive at the moment,” Central Coast Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp said on Australia’s Seven Network. “It looks like a good six-week trial period that we would be able to facilitate. If all goes well, who knows, he might be lighting up the A-League this season.”

The 2018-19 regular season starts in October.

“It would only be big if he can play and if he can go really, really well,” Mielekamp said. “If he comes, and he’s not up to the level, then it actually has a detrimental effect.”

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