Following 18-month investigation, Senate passes bill protecting Olympic athletes from abuse

Washington

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ Senate lawmakers say the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee failed to protect its athletes from abuse.

That’s why they unanimously passed legislation that allows for sweeping reforms Tuesday.

The legislation is the culmination of an 18-month investigation conducted jointly by Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, which included four subcommittee hearings, interviews with Olympic athletes and survivors and the retrieval of over 70,000 pages of documents.

Blumenthal said the investigation revealed “emotional, physical and other abuse from coaches and trainers that [the athletes] trusted.”

“The organizations that are supposed to care for athletes should do their job and keep their trust – protect them, not betray them,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal said the problems stemmed from committee officials putting medals and money over the athletes’ well being.

Moran said the bill is designed to protect athletes from that abuse.

“This legislation is intended to strengthen legal liabilities and accountability mechanisms in the governance structure of the Olympic organizations, as well as restore a culture that puts athletes first,” Moran said.

With the Tokyo Olympics delayed until next year, lawmakers said it’s critical that their legislation go into effect soon to prevent further abuse.

The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee said they welcome the changes and are already working on their own to increase “transparency and accountability” and “will move rapidly…to address any outstanding provisions from this bill.”

Lawmakers said despite the victory in the Senate, they won’t stop pushing until the bill is signed into law.

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