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  • United States Congress forms committee for USOPC reform


    In October, United States President Donald Trump signed the "Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amatuer Athletes Act" into law. This law grants the United States Congress the power to remove members of the United States Olympic Paralympic Committee (USOPC), along with giving Congress the power to decertify national governing bodies if they fail to follow SafeSport guidelines. 


    Part of this law requires Congress to form a committee made up of at least eight current or former Olympic or Paralympic athletes. The Associated Press reported that former Olympians Norman Bellingham (Canoe Sprint - Seoul), Brittany Reese (Long Jump - London 2012), and John Dane (Sailing - Beijing). Five other former Olympians will fill out the committee, along with other American politicians, non-Olympic athletes, and athletic influencers. 


    The formation of the "Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athletes Act" comes after several sexual abuse scandals involving American coaches and athletes came to light over the last several years. Most notably involving USA Gymnastics and their refusal to acknowledge the abuse within their program. The law also requires the USOPC to give the United States Center for SafeSport $20 million annually. 


    This law goes against the International Olympic Committee's policy of "government interference” and has many in the international sporting community uneasy about the United States as they continue to go against IOC policies. In the past year, the United States has stood defiant to the IOC and the international community regarding doping, WADA, and athlete protests. 


    That said, it is difficult to find that line of what qualifies as "government interference" as most nations use government money to fund their programs, and the success of those programs determines the funding - everything seems connected. 


    Whether this law helps the USOPC clean up their mess, or is another ploy for more government control, remains to be seen. However, allowing eight former athletes onto the commission seems like a step in the right direction. Letting those with prior experience make decisions is the correct move here - and should be a precedent for future decisions. 




    John Foyne

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