U.S. Senate introduces the Empowering Olympic and Amateur Athletes Act of 2019 following an investigative report into the U.S Olympic sexual abuse scandal
An 18-month bipartisan investigation by Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) found that a lack of oversight, independence, and transparency within the Olympic movement made it possible for the abuse of young athletes to take place.
Hundreds of athletes and gymnasts have since reported abuse by Larry Nassar, former USA Gymnastics team doctor. Survivors had said they reported complaints years before Nassar eventually resigned in 2015. He is now facing 175 years in prison for criminal sexual assault.
A new proposed legislation - Empowering Olympic and Amateur Athletes Act of 2019 - has been established in order to restore integrity into the U.S Olympic and Paralympic Committee. The three main categories of governance reforms include:
Strengthening Legal Liability and Accountability Mechanisms
This bill will prevent future governance failures within the U.S. Olympic movement by:
- Imposing greater legal liability on both the U.S. Olympic Committee and National Governing Bodies—the amateur athlete organizations that oversee Olympic sports—for bad acts, including sexual abuse by coaches and employees.
- Establishing legislative mechanisms by which Congress can dissolve the Board of the U.S. Olympic Committee and decertify National Governing Bodies.
- Increasing amateur athletes’ level of representation on the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committees board from 1/5 to 1/3. The bill also guarantees that 1/3 of National Governing Bodies’ governing structures will be filled by amateur athletes.
- Requiring the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to provide greater oversight over National Governing Bodies.
- Providing the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee with greater tools to discipline National Governing Bodies that are failing to protect athletes.
Restoring a Culture of Putting Athletes First
This bill ensures that the Olympic movement will protect survivors by:
- Requiring the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to establish clear procedures and reporting requirements that will protect athletes going forward.
- Imposing clear responsibilities to protect athletes that participate in sports programs administered by National Governing Bodies.
- Bolstering the Office of the Ombudsman’s authority and independence to aid athletes who have been assaulted or abused—whether that be sexually, physically, or emotionally.
Fortifying the Independence of the Center for SafeSport
The Center for SafeSport is responsible for investigating allegations of sexual abuse against athletes, and this bill strengthens the Center by:
- Requiring the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to pay the Center for SafeSport $20 million annually for operating costs.
- Barring individuals that are employed by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee or a National Governing Body from serving the Center for SafeSport.
- Requiring the Center for SafeSport to report to Congress within 72 hours any attempt by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee or a National Governing Body to interfere with the Center’s work.
Both senators said the investigation and new bill are just the first steps in creating a new culture in the amateur sports movement in the U.S.
To access the Senate statement, click here.
To view the full report visit here.