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Bill Which Gives Congress Power to Remove USOPC Board Members Signed by President

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A competitor warming up at the 2016 United States women’s gymnastics Olympic trials. Photo: Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

By Michael Pavitt |

The Empowering Olympic, Paralympic and Amateur Athletes Act of 2020 has been signed by United States President Donald Trump, which will see the legislation become law.

Trump’s signature was required by today, 10 days on from the legislation being presented to the White House.

His signature was the final part of the process required.

It followed the United States House of Representatives in Washington D.C. passing the act, approved by the Senate in August, on October 1.

The act grants Congress the power to remove members of the USOPC Board of Directors, while it would have the ability to decertify national governing bodies in the country if they fail to adhere to requirements.

The act would also require the USOPC to give the US Center for SafeSport $20 million in annual funding to do its work more effectively.

The act establishes safeguards designed to protect amateur athletes from abuse from coaches and other officials within Olympic and Paralympic sports.

The bill was spearheaded by Senators Jerry Moran and Richard Blumenthal, with the aim of helping to safeguard athletes following the sexual abuse scandal involving disgraced USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.

“This day would not be possible were it not for the athletes and courageous survivors who travelled to Washington, shared their stories and demanded change so that future generations of athletes can train, compete and succeed without fear of abuse,” Moran wrote on Twitter.

“Senator Blumemthal and I promised survivors we would get this bill across the finish line.

“While powerful institutions failed them in the past, we weren’t going to.

“We will continue to hold accountable the institutions that have the responsibility to keep our athletes safe.”

The bill is expected to see the formation of a 16-member commission on the State of the U.S. Olympics and Paralympics.

Commission members would either need to have experience in elite athletic coaching, public service related to sports, advocated for increased minority participation in sports, expertise in bullying prevention and promotion of a healthy organisational culture.

Appointments could also have experience as an amateur, Olympic and Paralympic, or professional athlete, as well as in sports administration.

At least eight members would have to be current or former Olympic or Paralympic athletes.

The Commission would study matters related to US participation in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, including reviewing reform efforts from the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC).

Many of the reforms outlined in the bill have either been implemented or are in the process of being implemented by the USOPC, which came under fire following the sexual abuse scandal involving Nassar.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) strictly prohibits Government interference in its National Olympic Committees.

It has been suggested the IOC could view the bill as Government interference, which could potentially lead to the USOPC being suspended.

The USOPC had initially expressed concern over the consequences for the organisation and the country’s athletes if it were to come into law, but has since offered support to the legislation.

USOPC chief executive Sarah Hirshland earlier this month said the law itself should not breach IOC rules.

However, she acknowledged if the Congress were to act on the law and unseat members of the USOPC Board, the IOC may consider it a violation of the Olympic Charter.

Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.

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