Senate Passes Bill To Bolster Oversight of Olympic Sports After Abuse Scandals

The U.S. Senate passed the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athletes Act this week, increasing oversight of sports organizations after years of high-profile sexual abuse scandals.

The Washington Post reports that the Senate unanimously passed the bill, which was introduced in the summer of 2019. The bill will now move to the House of Representatives.

The bill includes a number of reforms to Olympic and Paralympic sport organizations, and calls for increased funding to the U.S. Center for SafeSport. The Center for SafeSport was established in March of 2017 to investigate and prosecute misconduct within Olympic and Paralympic sports. It now keeps a publicly searchable database of individuals who have been disciplined for misconduct.

According to the Post, the bill makes several key changes to the operations of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC):

  • Giving Congress the ability to dissolve the USOPC Board of Directors
  • Giving Congress the ability to decertify specific sports governing bodies
  • Calling for the USOPC to provide $20 million a year in funding to the U.S. Center for SafeSport
    • In 2019, the USOPC contributed $7.5 million, and it has given $11.5 million so far this year, so the $20 million figure represents a significant increase
  • Calling for an “oversight commission” to investigate both the USOPC and the 1978 Amateur Sports Act
    • The 16-person commission would be congressionally appointed and would give a report to Congress
  • Calling for more athlete representation in sport governing bodies
  • Requiring the USOPC to conduct a yearly athlete survey and to make a report to Congress and the White House each year

The bill’s passage comes after a series of high-profile sexual abuse cases. The most notable was that of former U.S. Olympic gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassarwho was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison in 2018. Nassar pleaded guilty to sexually abusing athletes under the guise of medical treatment, and more than 150 women spoke during his court hearing, accusing him of sexual misconduct.

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Anonymous
3 months ago

Highly recommend watching the documentary Athlete A. There should never be a program available to young athletes where parents/guardians cannot be present. If the coach doesn’t want to be questioned on anything, listen to your gut and don’t walk, but RUN away from that program.

Anon2
Reply to  Anonymous
3 months ago

I couldn’t agree more. I’m concerned with what I witnessed at a recent meet. Parents are again being kept at distance. This time as a response to Covid. This situation is putting abusers in a power situation over athletes. Parents trust your instincts, protect your athletes and question anything that doesn’t make sense. The culture needs to change. It is encouraging to see support, but it will require all of us to work together to put these safeties in place for our athletes.

Anonymous
Reply to  Anon2
3 months ago

We just left a program where the coach wouldn’t allow questions from anyone. If you had questions, you were trouble. We also found out he is married to one of his former swimmers. SMH – how is this still happening…

torchbearer
Reply to  Anonymous
3 months ago

Compulsory viewing for any parent of an elite child sportsperson….anywhere in the world. Sadly wherever there are children- schools, churches, sports even hospitals there are predators sadly.

Corn Pop
Reply to  Anonymous
3 months ago

Bwahh. USA has not offered to give back all those medals . You wanted them & did not care how you got them. As to Nasser, you need to bring in a Freudian Psychoanalyst but you would not like what they would say..
Until the USA is banned for this, it’s all crocodile tears & Me too hysterics.

Guerra
3 months ago

I hope they eventually decertify USA Swimming and teams either go with the AAU or USA Swimming can be rebuilt into a ethical and transparent operation that truly serves it’s membership. I wonder if USA Swimming used member funds to hire professional lobbyist to lobby against this legislation like they did in California ($77,000.00). The fact of the matter is that with all the lies, cover-ups and financial malfeasance from USA Swimming over the years, they’ve really got off with a free pass from this whole ordeal. Nobody from the executive staff or board went to jail, Chuck Wielgus kept his job until he passed away (as a hero) and board members and other employees that were complicit in Wielgus’… Read more »

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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