REPS LIEU, BROOKS, CURTIS AND DEGETTE INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN BILL TO PROTECT ATHLETES FROM ABUSE

August 4, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County), along with Reps. Susan Brooks (R-IN), John Curtis (R-UT) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) announced the introduction of the bipartisan Empowering Olympic, Paralympic and Amateur Athletes Act to help protect athletes from sexual abuse. The bill, a companion to Sens. Jerry Moran and Richard Blumenthal's legislation that passed in the Senate today, will strengthen legal liability and accountability mechanisms for both the U.S. Olympic Committee and the governing bodies of specific sports. Additionally, it will create clear procedures and reporting requirements for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to ensure athletes are protected moving forward. The bill will also ensure that allegations of sexual abuse against athletes can be independently investigated without the interference of U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee or a national sports governing body.

"Our Olympic athletes are a source of national pride," Rep. Lieu said. "As more and more brave athletes have come forward detailing abuse at the hands of coaches and other authority figures in recent years, it is clear systemic problems contributed to their abuse. We owe it to athletes to protect them from harm.  We cannot hold individuals accountable without acknowledging the institutional failures that allowed this to occur. Institutional leaders at both Olympic Committee and sports governing bodies created the environment where abuse was tolerated and victims were ignored. Our bill will create better mechanisms of accountability and oversight for these powerful athletic institutions. I'm grateful for the bipartisan leadership on this effort from Sens. Moran and Blumenthal, as well my colleagues Reps. Brooks, Curtis and DeGette. Together, we will protect athletes and restore the integrity of elite sports organizations."

“A few years ago, The Indianapolis Star uncovered and reported on the horrific abuse of our female gymnasts by former U.S.A. Gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar,” Rep. Brooks said. “I am honored to co-lead this bipartisan legislation, which will require the U.S. Olympic Committee ensure all U.S. Olympic athletes are protected from predators in their quest for the gold. Our Olympic athletes have committed their lives to representing America on the world stage. This legislation goes a long way to better protect the safety and health of our Olympic athletes.”

“America’s top-level athletes should be able to focus on the sport they love and not have to worry about being taken advantage of by bad actors," Rep. Curtis said. "I am proud to be a Republican co-lead of the Empowering Olympic and Amateur Athletes Act to enhance safety for athletes by implementing needed reforms to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.”

“No amount of gold medals are worth putting the health and safety of our athletes at risk,” said DeGette. “When the very body that Congress created to care for our athletes becomes more concerned about winning and protecting a brand than the athletes themselves, it’s time for change.”

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