WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed sweeping Olympic reform legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) – chairman and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Commerce Subcommittee with jurisdiction and oversight authority over the health and safety of U.S. Olympic and amateur athletes – that will reform the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) in the wake of abuse allegations that touched nearly all corners of Olympic sport.
Sens. Moran and Blumenthal introduced the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athlete Act in July of 2019 following an eighteen-month investigation into systemic abuse within the U.S. Olympic movement. The joint investigation was launched the day after Larry Nassar was sentenced to prison and included four subcommittee hearings, interviews with Olympic athletes and survivors, and the retrieval of over 70,000 pages of documents.
“Today’s Senate passage of our Olympic reform legislation marks a critical step towards providing effective safeguards and protections to Olympic, Paralympic and amateur athletes pursuing the sports they love,” Moran and Blumenthal said. “We could not have passed this bill in the Senate today without the input and guidance of the survivors – athletes who traveled to Washington countless times, shared their stories and demanded change. While powerful institutions failed these survivors in the past, we aren’t going to.”
“We are grateful to our Senate colleagues who provided support and input leading up to today’s passage, and we look forward to working with our colleagues in the House of Representatives and the White House to get these critical reforms across the finish line – for the survivors and all of our nation’s future athletes,” Moran and Blumenthal continued.
This bill is cosponsored by Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Companion legislation of the Moran-Blumenthal Olympic reform bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Cal.), John Curtis (R-Utah), Dianna DeGette (D-Colo.) and Susan Brooks (R-Ind.).
Statements from Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Jordyn Wieber and Grace French:
“One person abused is too many. For years, USA Gymnastics and the USOPC tried to avoid responsibility for our abuse and put their own interests before those of athletes. They treated Larry Nassar like a PR problem, not a sexual abuse problem. USA Gymnastics and USOPC were happy to claim us when it benefited their bottom line, taking credit for medal performances and publishing ads with our photos, but not when we came forward to demand accountability for their culture of abuse. That stops now. After every major institution charged with athlete safety failed us, I am grateful to Senators Moran and Blumenthal for keeping their promise to bring real accountability to USOPC,” said Aly Raisman, captain of both the 2012 "Fierce Five" and 2016 "Final Five" U.S. women's Olympic gymnastics teams and a six-time Olympic medalist.
“When athletes dream of competing for their country, standing on the podium, listening to their national anthem, they don’t imagine they’d be forced to suffer years of sexual abuse to get there. Larry Nassar was an abusive monster, who preyed on thousands of young, vulnerable girls. He abused my trust, he abused my body, and he left scars on my psyche that may never go away. Equally disturbing is the fact that he couldn’t have gotten away with his crimes for as long as he did, if it were not for powerful institutions looking the other way, and enabling his abuse. For too long, the wrong people held all the power – now, it’s back in the hands of the athletes, where it belongs. This bill recognizes that USOC failed us, and put child athletes at risk. I am grateful to the Senate for passing this bill, and look forward to see the House of Representatives take the next step to hold the leadership of USOPC fully accountable for their failures,” said McKayla Maroney, a member of the U.S. women’s “Fierce Five” gymnastics team at the 2012 Summer Olympics, where she won a gold medal in the team and an individual silver medal in the vault event.
“The organizations whose job it was to protect us failed. They perpetuated a culture of abuse, neglect and a win-at-all-costs mentality, which harmed hundreds of survivors. On behalf of all members of Team USA, I thank Senators Moran and Blumenthal for listening to the voices of survivors and taking bold action to hold USOPC accountable for their failure to protect athletes from physical, emotional and sexual abuse,” said Jordyn Wieber, an Olympic gold medalist and member of the U.S. women’s “Fierce Five” Olympic gymnastics team.
“The last few years of scandals in athletics have shown us only the tip of the iceberg of abuse in sport. A massive cultural upending still needs to take place in our Olympic Movement, to put athlete-welfare first, well ahead of medals, money, or clout. Cultural change can come from the governance changes that are embedded in Senate Bill 2330. The three years of work that have gone into this legislation, and the support from those inside the Olympic Movement - over 1,000 Olympians, Paralympians, elite athletes, survivors, coaches, organizations and supporters - show us how desperately reform is needed. Senator Moran and Blumenthal’s legislative efforts will be the start to a much-needed cultural upending, that will better protect and serve our nation's athletes,” said Grace French, survivor and Founder and President of the Army of Survivors.
Previous Action on the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athletes Act:
- The legislation was introduced on July 30, 2019. Read Sens. Moran and Blumenthal’s editorial announcing their sweeping legislation in USA Today here.
- The legislation was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee on November 13, 2019.
The Moran-Blumenthal Investigative Report & Legislation:
- Click here to read the senators’ full investigative report, findings and recommendations.
- Click here to read revised bill text.
- Click here to read a one-page summary of the bill.
- Click here to read a section-by-section summary of the bill.
The bipartisan Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athletes Act:
- Empowers athletes by giving them a seat at the decision-making table, and significantly increases athlete representation on governing boards, committees and panels within National Governing Bodies (NBGs) and the USOPC to help identify problematic policies and practices faster, while prioritizing athlete-centric solutions;
- Bolsters resources for the U.S. Center for SafeSport while ensuring its independence from the USOPC and the NGBs;
- Requires relevant SafeSport training, so athletes know how to identify abuse, and so adults know how to prevent it;
- Strengthens and codifies reporting mandates for adults with knowledge of any allegation of child abuse of an amateur athlete;
- Protects individuals who report emotional, physical or sexual abuse of an athlete from retaliation within the Olympic movement;
- Promotes safety by requiring NGBs to enforce SafeSport sanctions and directing SafeSport to maintain a public list of all barred coaches and individuals;
- Bolsters USOC auditing and reporting requirements, so that Congress can better provide regular oversight; and
- Establishes legislative mechanisms by which Congress can dissolve the Board of the U.S. Olympic Committee and decertify NGBs.
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