Senate Bill Would Reform SafeSport, Mandate More Athlete Representation & More

A bill set to be introduced in the United States Senate calls for major reforms to Olympic and sporting governing bodies, including increased legal liability, more athlete representation and more mandated funding to the U.S. Center for SafeSport.

The Washington Post reports that the bill came out of a Senate Commerce subcommittee, which found that the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics “knowingly concealed abuse by Larry Nassarleading to the abuse of dozens of additional amateur athletes from summer 2015 to September 2016.”

The Congressional panel was led by Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who now say they plan to introduce a bill today calling for sweeping reform to both the U.S. Olympic Committee (recently rebranded as the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, or USOPC) and the 47 sport-specific governing bodies like USA Swimming.

Per The Post and USA Today, the bill would focus on three specific areas:

Increasing legal liablity for USOPC & NGBs

The bill would increase legal liability against the USOPC and national governing bodies like USA Swimming. It would require the USOPC to keep a public list of banned coaches (though that is already being done by the U.S. Center for SafeSport), and would give Congress sweeping power to decertify national governing bodies or even dissolve the USOPC board of directors in the future. The USOPC would also have to review its national governing bodies every four years.

Increasing athlete representation in governance

The bill would increase athlete representation on both the USOPC board and in NGBs like USA Swimming from one-fifth (20%) to one-third (33.3%).

Mandating more funding for & limiting interference on U.S. Center for SafeSport

The bill would mandate that the USOPC provide $20 million a year in funding to the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which investigates complaints of athlete abuse, hands down sanctions and keeps a public database of banned individuals across all sports. The bill would also prohibit employees of the USOPC or sport-specific national governing bodies from serving at the Center in an attempt to root out conflicts of interest or interference in investigations.

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coach

When will they start holding the Center for Safesport accountable?

umeweall

Open ended statement, with no direct reference point. The problem is, as things have happened in the past, they created the center with inadequate funding to do the job that it is tasked to do. The effort is commendable, but the reality of operational needs were not fully funded. It is hoped that this will change over time. In a this current bill, currently coming down the pike, there is additional funding directed toward center operations. If may be found, with the case load ever increasing, that there needs to be a hell of a lot more money directed towards enforcement, investigation and educational tasks.

KST

Great…but doesn’t Congress have more pressing matters?

Climate crisis, federal deficit, healthcare, infrastructure, trade, immigration, campaign finance reform, military, minimum wage, taxation, oversight, war powers, anti-proliferation, housing…and they’re choosing to focus on USOC?

They’re changing the drapes while the house is on fire.

coach

Well the FBI already had dibs on NCAA basketball…

Bingo

They do have more Important things to do but they don’t do anything to help major issues. So let them fix things that matter to the athletes!

Steve Nolan

That’s the reasoning used to basically never do anything.

(You did pick the right thing to start with though – focusing on climate is really the only thing every person on the planet should be focusing on right now. But until then, fixing SafeSport isn’t nothing.)

I hate arguments like this, especially on the internet. They can only be had honestly among trusted friends or peers who agree to have a rousing intellectual debate that will never leave the room. Having a debate over catastrophic global warming, and protecting children from abuse, and which is more or less important, is a fruitless one among strangers trying to score points on the internet.

Bobo Gigi

As long as most of House/Senate members and the President are corrupt nothing of what you’ve mentioned can really change. But to end the current legal corruption you need a campaign finance reform voted by . . . the Congress. And you need a Supreme Court where members are picked by . . . the President and confirmed by . . . the Congress.
Big problem.
Only a political revolution can transform the system. And you know who can lead that revolution.

Steve Nolan

holy hell is bobo a berniebro?!

Best take you’ve had, ever.

umeweall

This has nothing to do with this topic, and is just an effort at grandstanding and sensationalism.

Taa

I had previously asked for language in the bill to make the organizations subject to the freedom of information act. Time to follow up.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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