U.S. Senate Continues Push For Increased USOPC, NGB Oversight
U.S. Senators have "moved ahead with an effort to enhance congressional oversight of U.S. participation in the Olympics" and the USOPC, according to Niels Lesniewski of ROLL CALL. Yesterday's voice vote by the Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee to advance an amended version of a bipartisan bill "came despite concerns raised" by the USOPC. The amended measure "would make it easier for Congress to get rid of members" of the USOPC BOD and to decertify NGBs "that oversee individual Olympic and amateur sports if they fail to protect athletes from abuse." The legislation "appears to need more work before reaching the Senate floor since senators on both sides of the aisle raised some concerns, particularly about procedure." U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) "cautioned against granting Congress the authority to disband the USOPC," particularly on an accelerated timeline. He "offered an amendment to strike that language from the bill that did not advance" (ROLLCALL.com, 11/13).
DANGEROUS PRECEDENT: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Louise Radnofsky reports the USOPC yesterday argued to the committee that "tightening federal control" over the USOPC's leaders "risked Team USA athletes being barred from future Olympic Games." However, committee members looked at the threats and said that they would "take their chances." The stare down came after the USOPC "made a late push for senators to pull back" the possibility of dissolving its BOD and terminating any NGBs. USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland in a letter sent Tuesday indicated that "giving Congress that power would run afoul of Olympic movement rules and could stop the U.S. from participating in the Games." However, lawmakers including U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) accused the USOPC of being "disingenuous, in part because other national Olympic committees with greater political involvement -- such as China's -- had not been barred from the Games" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/14).