scandals

Olympics reform bill passes House after abuse scandals rocked sports

Born out of the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the gymnastics world and toppled the leadership at the USOPC, the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athletes Act empowers Congress to decertify individual sports’ governing bodies and dissolve the USOPC’s board of directors. It also calls for better athlete representation in governing bodies and more funding for the U.S. Center for SafeSport, a nonprofit charged by Congress with policing sexual abuse in Olympic sports. Rep. Ted W. Lieu (D-Calif.), co-sponsor of the House bill, called it a potential “sea change.”

“We know from the Larry Nassar scandal and other scandals that we have to make the entire Olympic system much more athlete-centered,” Lieu said in a telephone interview.

Lawmakers from both parties have said they hope Trump will quickly sign it into law. A White House spokesman this week declined to comment on the president’s plans.

The bill effectively means that Congress will keep close watch on Olympic organizations, receiving annual reports and audits, and will be poised to take further action, if needed.

“Laws are dead letter and worse than worthless if they are not effectively enforced,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a co-sponsor in the Senate, said in a phone interview. “So I want to make sure Congress continues its strong oversight. …If there’s a need for more reform, I will have no reluctance to advocate more measures. I have no illusions that this legislation is the end of the story or that it’s a perfect solution. We’ve done our best on this first set of reforms, and I think it’s designed to change the culture and character of these agencies, as well as the culture of sport.”

Some of the biggest potential changes might not be known for months or longer. The bill calls for the creation of a