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Senators say Olympic leaders put reputations ahead of athlete safety

Posted at 6:42 PM, Jul 30, 2019

WASHINGTON D.C. — An 18-month Congressional investigation into sexual abuse in the Olympics sports found that the US Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics and other institutions of authority all failed to aggressively report wrongdoing to law enforcement agencies. Instead, the report concludes those organizations prioritized their reputations over the health and safety of the athletes. The 235 page Senate Olympics Investigation by Senators Jerry Moran, (R) Kansas, and Richard Blumenthal, (D) Connecticut was released Monday along with a draft of legislation dubbed the Empowering Olympic and Amateur Athletes Act of 2019.

"We're now at a moment of reckoning one year before the next Olympics, the best way for the USOC and all of the national governing boards to show they are serious about stopping abuse is to support this legislation," Senator Blumenthal said in a conference call with reporters.

The bill increases funding by $20 million to the US Center for SafeSport and makes changes to give the watchdog group greater autonomy to act independently of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committed and other National Governing Bodies. It mandates sex abuse training for athletes and other adults, codifies mandatory reporting requirements and gives Congress a legislative mechanism to dissolve the USOPC and to de-certify the NGB's in the event of a lack of compliance.

"This legislation would go further than what has happened at USOC to date, and I think the conclusions of our investigation warrant additional things occurring at the US Olympic Committee," Senator Moran told reporters.

The bill also expands athlete representation on the USOPC Board of Directors and the boards of the various NGB's from the current 1/5th to 1/3rd.