Senate Clears Olympics Accountability Bill to Protect Athletes from Abuse
Aug 06, 2020
Grassley provisions protect whistleblowers; promote proper use of funds
WASHINGTON – The Senate passed landmark legislation reforming safeguards for Olympic and amateur athletes in the wake of widespread abuse and exploitation by officials tasked with overseeing and caring for young athletes. The legislation includes provisions authored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to prevent reprisal against whistleblowers who encounter such misconduct, and to ensure funding designated for investigations of such misconduct is appropriately spent.
“Nobody should ever face abuses like those perpetrated by Olympic physician Larry Nassar, someone entrusted to support and care for young athletes. We must support and protect the brave individuals who shine a light on such abuse and ensure that those tasked with investigating claims of misconduct are appropriately equipped to hold bad actors accountable. The legislation that passed the Senate this week contains provisions from my SAFESPORT Act to do just that,” Grassley said.
The Senate unanimously passed the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athletes Act (S. 2330), authored by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) following a far-reaching investigation into systemic failures to respond to abuse within the Olympic community. The legislation contains Grassley’s whistleblower protections and funding accountability provisions that were a part of Grassley’s SAFESPORT Act (S. 2838).
The U.S. Center for SafeSport was established to respond to claims of abuse and exploitation of athletes in amateur sports, including those who train and compete under the supervision of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and its associated organizations. As chairman of the Judiciary Committee during the 115th Congress, senator Grassley developed legislation with Senator Feinstein to require coaches and instructors in amateur athletics to report suspected cases of abuse to the authorities. The final version of that legislation designated SafeSport, a nonprofit organization, to receive and respond to complaints of abuse in amateur athletics.
SafeSport currently receives millions in grants from the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic committee each year to fulfill its mission. The Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athlete Act would establish a permanent funding stream for the organization, ensuring that SafeSport will have adequate resources to resolve complaints of abuse from amateur athletes in the future. Grassley’s provisions, which were added to S. 2330 during a business meeting of the Commerce Committee in November 2019, are designed to further protect amateur athletes who report abuse. The Grassley provisions ensure that funds transferred to SafeSport must be used primarily to process and resolve amateur athletes’ complaints of misconduct. SafeSport cannot use transferred funds for lobbying or fundraising, under the Grassley provisions. The Grassley accountability language, which is in Section 8 of S. 2330, also ensures that SafeSport will have annual audits, and that audit results will be made public. In addition, the Grassley language imposes a cap on the use of transferred funds by SafeSport for executive compensation. Finally, Grassley also authored protections from retaliation for those who report abuse in amateur sports, which were incorporated in Section 6 of S. 2330. Grassley introduced his legislation containing many of these same provisions last November.