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In Wake of Abuse Scandals, Bill Would Hold U.S. Olympic Organizations Accountable

Jul 30, 2019
Originally published on July 30, 2019 1:50 pm

Over the past 18 months, Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., have investigated how a now-convicted child molester like Larry Nassar was able to serve as team doctor to the USA Gymnastics team for nearly two decades.

The result of their efforts is the Empowering Olympic and Amateur Athletes Sports Act of 2019, which would ratchet up oversight, increase athlete representation within the Olympic movement and provide more resources to the organization charged with investigating sexual abuse within Olympic sports.

Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, said the legislation continues the work the committee has been doing since early last year.

"Improving athlete safety and voice in our country's Olympic and Paralympic community, and increasing accountability for the organizations that make up that community, are central to the initiatives and reform that we began, in February 2018," she said. "We applaud Congress for their continued work on this critically important issue."

The legislation would boost the number of athletes involved in the administration of Olympic sports. Right now, athletes make up 20 percent of the boards of the USOPC and the national governing bodies. That number would rise to 33 percent.

Advocates for stronger protections for athletes within the Olympic Movement, like Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a gold medalist in swimming and head of the organization Champion Women, have pushed for this change because they believe it will lead to older, more experienced individuals serving as athlete representatives, which in turn could foster change within sports organizations.

The legislation would increase funding for U.S. Center for SafeSport, an independent organization charged with investigating sexual abuse in the Olympic Movement, by requiring $20 million in funding from the Olympic committee.

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