08.04.20

Senate Passes Gardner’s Legislation to Reevaluate the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee

Would establish a blue ribbon commission dedicated to improving USOPC with athlete input

Washington, D.C. – Today the U.S. Senate passed legislation that included a provision authored by U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) to establish the Commission on the State of U.S. Olympics and Paralympics. Under Gardner’s legislation, the Strengthening U.S. Olympics Act, Congress would establish a 16-member commission, all of whom would be required to have experience in athletics, advocacy, or coaching, and half of whom would be comprised of Olympians or Paralympians selected to study the structure of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and provide recommendations to improve it.

“When an American takes the podium draped in the Stars and Stripes, we take pride in knowing our athletes represent some of the best talent in our country. But we also know we must do better to support our athletes in the broader Olympic and Paralympic ecosystem, which is what this bill will help do,” said Senator Gardner. “Establishing this 16-member commission, at least half of whom would be Olympians or Paralympians, will give athletes a seat at the table and ensure the U.S. Olympic Committee’s presence in Colorado grows even stronger. I look forward to this Commission applying the Olympic-level dedication that inspires the world to improving the USOPC and the state of U.S. Olympics and Paralympics.”

“On behalf of The Committee to Restore Integrity to the USOPC and U.S. Olympians and Paralympians Unbroken, I am grateful to Senator Gardner and Congresswoman DeGette for spearheading the creation of a 16-person Commission that will be charged with further updating the 1978 Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act over a nine-month period,” said Nancy Hogshead-Makar, J.D., CEO of Champion Women and a three-time Olympic gold medalist. “We are almost 500 Olympians, Paralympians and elite athletes, 200 coaches, 73 survivors, 121 sport leaders, and have been working on Olympic governance reform for over four years now. When we asked for leadership to fix a broken sport governance system on behalf of those most impacted by the Olympic Movement, they answered the call. I look forward to working collaboratively to assure that athletes are no longer required to be obedient and subservient, to be without resources, and to be subject to physical, emotional and sexual abuse.” 

The commission established by Gardner’s legislation would study the structure of the USOPC and determine whether or not the USOPC board includes diverse membership, provide the status of existing licensing and funding arrangements, ensure oversight of sports' National Governing Bodies, and bolster the recruitment of the Olympic and Paralympic games to the United States, along with other duties. The Commission would submit a final report to Congress with their findings, conclusions, recommendations, and any suggested policy changes within 270 days of the bill’s enactment. 

Background:

  • In December 2019, Gardner and U.S. Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO) authored a joint op-ed in the Colorado Springs Gazette on the importance of the Strengthening U.S. Olympics Act to give athletes a say in the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) structure.
  • The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, of which Gardner is a member,advanced Gardner’s legislation to establish Commission on the State of U.S. Olympics and Paralympics in November 2019.
  • In June 2019, Gardner, Representative DeGette, and Judge Rosemarie Aquilina – who presided over the sentencing of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar – and nearly a dozen former Olympic athletes held a press conference in Denver to discuss Gardner and DeGette’s legislation.
  • Representative DeGette introduced companion legislation to Gardner’s in the U.S. House of Representatives in June 2019.
  • In January 2019, Gardner introduced legislation to establish the Commission on the State of U.S. Olympics and Paralympics.

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.