[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Just one year out from the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) Jerry Moran (R-KT) – Ranking Member and Chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce Subcommittee with jurisdiction over the health and safety of U.S. Olympic and amateur athletes – today introduced sweeping legislation to reform the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee in response to findings of systemic abuse within the U.S. Olympic movement.
The bipartisan Empowering Olympic and Amateur Athletes Act of 2019 is the culmination of an 18-month investigation conducted jointly by Blumenthal and Moran, which included four subcommittee hearings, interviews with Olympic athletes and survivors, and the retrieval of over 70,000 pages of documents. Click here to read the senators’ full investigative report, findings and recommendations; here for a one-page summary of the bill; and here for full bill text.
“We are introducing the Empowering Olympic and Amateur Athletes Act today to empower and protect Olympic and amateur athletes through three key reforms,” the senators said. “First and foremost, our legislation will implement requirements to promote a culture where athletes and their best interests are put first. Second, it will ensure greater transparency and accountability throughout the amateur sports movement, and, third, it will fortify the independence and capabilities of the U.S. Center for SafeSport, the body responsible for investigating allegations of sexual abuse against athletes and coaches.”
“We have been incredibly moved by the courage of the survivors of abuse who have shared their stories with us and the world,” the senators continued. “Neither this legislation nor the ongoing, necessary cultural shift within the Olympic movement could have happened without their guidance and leadership. We draw motivation from their unwavering commitment to work with us to prevent the abuse of any young athlete in the future and we thank them for putting their trust in us. We will get this bill across the finish line – for them, and for all future athletes, so that they may be able to participate in the sport they love without fear of abuse.”
“On behalf of all members of Team USA, I thank Senators Moran and Blumenthal and the members of their subcommittee for listening to the voices of survivors and taking bold action to hold the US Olympic Committee accountable for their failure to protect athletes from physical, emotional and sexual abuse,” said Gymnast and Olympic Gold Medalist Jordyn Wieber. “Stronger oversight by Congress and a truly independent Center for SafeSport is necessary to restore public confidence in our Olympic organizations and protect the health and safety of athletes who strive to represent the highest values of our Nation.”
“Olympic athletes dream of standing on the podium and listening to our national anthem,” said McKayla Maroney, member of the American Women’s Gymnastics team, dubbed the Fierce Five at the 2012 Summer Olympics, where she won a gold medal in the team and an individual silver medal in the vault event. “We have the right to expect that our United States Olympic Committee will protect all athletes, especially children. This bill recognizes that USOC failed us and put child athletes at risk. Congress should pass this bill as soon as possible and hold the leadership of USOC accountable for their failures.”
“This bill sends a message from Congress to our athletes: We care about you. You have a voice. Speak up and you will be believed,” said 2000 Olympic Bronze Medalist Jamie Dantzscher. “It also sends a message to the leadership of the US Olympic Committee and the national governing bodies: Put the health and safety of athletes above money and medals or you will be held accountable.”
The bipartisan Empowering Olympic and Amateur Athletes Act of 2019:
- Empowers athletes by giving them a seat at the decision-making table, and significantly increases athlete representation on governing boards, committees and panels within NGBs 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.
The Moran-Blumenthal Investigation & Legislation:
- Click here to read the senators’ full investigative report, findings and recommendations.
- Click here to read full 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.