The United States House of Representatives passed the “Empowering Olympic and Amateur Athletes Act” on Thursday, a bill that will increase the oversight of sports organizations after years of high-profile sexual abuse scandals.
The Congress website describes the act as follows: “To amend the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act to provide for congressional oversight of the board of directors of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and to protect amateur athletes from emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, and for other purposes.”
Created after the U.S. gymnastics sexual abuse scandal that saw Larry Nassar sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison in 2018, the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athletes Act will allow Congress to decertify the governing bodies of individual sports and dissolve the USOPC Board of Directors, according to The Washington Post.
The bill also calls for more athlete representation within governing bodies and more funding for 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.
As we noted when the bill was passed by the Senate just under two months ago, 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
You can read more about the act on the Congress website here.