Olympic Movement Member Support Ltr S2330 Comm
Dear Member of Congress:
We are Olympic & Paralympic athletes, elite athletes, coaches, sport leaders, sexual abuse survivors, and supporters writing to ask you to support immediate enactment of S. S.2330 – “Empowering Olympic and Amateur Athletes Act of 2019” without any weakening amendments.
On November 13, 2019 the Senate Commerce Committee approved this bill, a crucial step toward preventing future sexual abuse of our athletes. This bipartisan legislation combines important and necessary provisions developed by Senators Moran and Blumenthal to immediately reform the governance of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), along with creating a 16-member Commission. As pioneered by Senator Gardner and Congresswoman DeGette, the Commission is charged with further updating the 1978 Amateur Sports Act over a nine-month period.
During the markup, an effort was made to weaken the bill by eliminating section 4, a key feature that enshrines ongoing and effective Congressional oversight of the USOPC and its National Governing Bodies (NGBs). Doing so would have eliminated independent oversight, a crucial reform that must occur if we are going to tackle the problem of sexual abuse in the Olympic Movement. We strongly urge you to retain this important provision.
This legislation is sorely needed for a crucial reason; athlete abuse in Olympic & Paralympic sport is rampant and ongoing. It must stop. The U.S. Center for SafeSport has received over 4000 incidents of sexual abuse in just the three years of its existence. Sexual misconduct claims in U.S. Olympic & Paralympian sports rose 55 percent between 2018 and 2019, and included 2770 reports in 2019 alone. The Center for SafeSport, which is currently dramatically underfunded, is now receiving over 220+ reports of sexual abuse per month. We do not know how many reports of selection-tampering, of financial, emotional and physical abuse are being reported directly to the USOPC and NGBs. Yet NGBs are still stubbornly refusing to require their members to be
trained in sexual abuse, grooming and appropriate boundaries between athletes and those who wield enormous control over them.1
Congress has held numerous hearings on sexual abuse in Olympic sports, but has yet to legislate a solution. Four major reports have detailed the USOPC’s governance failures,2 noting that USOPC Board has no constituency, no shareholders, no owners, no independent oversight, and certainly is not accountable to the athletes they are supposed to be serving. Every day of inaction, the abuse continues. It’s time to act with force and commitment! Please do everything in your power to enact this legislation as soon as possible, so that we can prevent future instances of sexual abuse of Olympic and Paralympic athletes, and the millions with high aspirations.