In the News

Kansas senator one step from getting landmark Olympic sex-abuse reform through Congress

Kansas City Star | Hayden Barber

Federal oversight legislation initially started by a Kansas senator on Jan. 25, 2018 in the wake of the Dr. Larry Nassar in U.S. gymnastics is about to pass through Congress.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, drafted the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic and Amateur Athlete Act following Nassar’s conviction and prison sentence on charges he sexually abused U.S. gymnasts. It passed a Senate vote Tuesday and will next to go before the House of Representatives.

“Were it not for the pandemic, hundreds of our athletes would have been in Tokyo right now representing the United States of America at the Olympics,” Moran said in his speech to the Senate. “Even though our athletes are unable to compete today, we owe it to them to create, for future athletes and future competitors, a safe place in which to compete.”

After an 18-month investigation into systemic abuse, four subcommittee hearings, interviews with Olympic athletes like former U.S. gymnasts Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney and the review of 70,000 pages of documents, the bill passed unanimously through the Senate and is expected to be similarly passed by the House.

It’s expected the legislation will reform the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC).

“While we have already modified our bylaws to address important components of the bill, there are still many reform provisions we will need to implement,” Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the USOPC, said in a news release. “I want to assure you that we are committed to addressing all outstanding provisions immediately.”

“I can honestly say this effort could very well be the most important bipartisan efforts and pieces of legislation resulting therefrom that I have been a part of as a United States senator,” Moran told the Senate Tuesday.

“One (abuse) is too many, but why was there ever more than one? May we never have to ask that question again. And may there never be one in the first place.”