Proposed Legislation Would Increase Congressional Oversight Of USOPC
U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) expect their new bill that subjects the entire USOPC board to "total dissolution by Congress if it acts negligently" to "pass swiftly," according to Sally Jenkins of the WASHINGTON POST. The new bill comes after the Larry Nassar scandal and "contains a number of nursemaid provisions," which include the USOPC needing to pay $20M a year to the Center for SafeSport to "police abuse." The USOPC must also "submit yearly reports with audits of its finances to Congressional oversight bodies" and the bill "mandatorily increases athlete representation on the board from one-fifth to one-third of the members." The USOPC, should the bill pass, will be "regulated by congressional committee and subcommittees." Jenkins writes the bill is "by no means perfect," but it is "not nothing either, and Moran and Blumenthal and their staffs should be congratulated." Their work is a "cure for creeping cynicism about the uselessness of your elected officials." Athlete advocates "hope Moran and Blumenthal will work with" U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette(D-Colo.), who have "proposed House legislation that would form a 16-member commission to look at an entire restructuring of the USOPC." Jenkins: "Without real, ongoing regulation from the congressional committees, the bill will be toothless" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/31).
SENATORS EXPLAIN GOALS: Blumenthal said the legislation would "produce a seismic change in culture" around the USOPC. He said, "No more medals and money over morals. USA Gymnastics was rotten to the core, and we're going to hold U.S. Olympics responsible. They will be legally accountable, they will have reporting duties. They will have to disclose the names of those predators that are found, and they will have to be legally liable -- every individual, every official and the organization itself." Moran said, "I don't see how it cannot become law. ... Blumenthal and I are committed to making sure that this legislation becomes law and that it protects those that are in this kind of circumstance in the future" ("Morning Joe," MSNBC, 7/30). Moran added that he and Blumenthal want the USOPC "to be supportive of the changes" outlined in the bill. Moran: "If there are details that need to be addressed, I know we will have the opportunity for individuals and organizations to present their ideas. ... We don't want this legislation or its goals undermined, but if there are details we can modify that solve a particular problem ... we're certainly open to those kind of changes." ESPN's Ryan Smith wondered if the increased money for SafeSport could come from athlete training, but Blumenthal quickly said, "That will not and should not happen." Blumenthal: "Congress will disband and fire the United States Olympic Committee if it fails to put not only money but action where the talk is. The time for baby steps is over. We need real progress here" ("OTL," ESPN, 7/30).
CHANGING THE SYSTEM: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Louise Radnofsky noted the bill proposed by Blumenthal and Moran would "amend the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act that grants the committee the power to run major amateur sports in the U.S., with congressional oversight." The legislation would "mark the most significant changes to U.S. Olympic governance in the nearly three years since the Nassar scandal broke." It also would go "substantially further than legislation proposed earlier this year" by Gardner and DeGette. The legislation is "unlikely to affect" the '20 Tokyo Games. Legislators "couldn't move to remove board members of the USOPC or decertify a national governing body, for instance, until one year after the legislation is enacted" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/30).
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: In Colorado Springs, Woody Paige writes it is "way past time for action but, perhaps, current and future Olympic athletes can be saved from sexual abuse, cruelty, exploitation and manipulation by coaches, doctors, and authorities in their individual sports, and they finally will be fully protected by the highest governing Olympic governing agency in the country." Paige: "Let's all hope that the Act of Congress becomes a law of the land to reorganize the still-dysfunctional USOPC" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 7/31).