The Sports Examiner

THE BIG PICTURE: Colorado Senator Gardner introduces bill to review the USOC

U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado)

Now we are getting serious.

After all of the posturing, press releases and yelling about reform of the United States Olympic Committee, the only body with authority over the USOC may move forward with an in-depth review of the institution.

Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, a first-term Republican, introduced a bill entitled “Strengthening U.S. Olympics Act” which would authorize a 16-member “Commission on the State of U.S. Olympics and Paralympics” with a nine-month task to hold hearings and file a report on the Olympic Movement in the United States.

The bill includes 10 specific items to be examined; from the bill text:

“(i) a description of proposed reforms to the structure of the United States Olympic Committee;

“(ii) an assessment of whether the board of the United States Olympic Committee includes diverse members, including athletes;

“(iii) an assessment of United States athlete participation levels in the Olympics and Paralympics;

“(iv) a description of the status of any United States Olympic Committee licensing arrangement;

“(v) an assessment of whether the United States is achieving the goals for the Olympics and Paralympics set by the United States Olympic Committee;

“(vi) an analysis of the participation in amateur athletics of— (I) women; (II) disabled individuals; and (III) minorities;

“(vii) a description of ongoing efforts by the United States Olympic Committee to recruit the Olympics and Paralympics to the United States;

“(viii) an evaluation of the function of the national governing bodies (as defined in section 220502 of title 36, United States Code) and an analysis of the responsiveness of the national governing bodies to athletes;

“(ix) an assessment of whether the United States Center for Safe Sport effectively handles reported cases of bullying, hazing, harassment, and sexual assault; and

“(x) an assessment of the finances and the financial organization of the United States Olympic Committee.”

The Commission would include eight “Olympic or Paralympic athletes,” although what constitutes an “athlete” in this context is not defined.

The bill was introduced today (16 January) and it will take a while to sift through the legislative process. There was no immediate word on a possible counterpart bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

But this is the first real step toward Congressional review of the USOC and will have the positive result in stopping the screaming and focusing the attention of the U.S. Olympic Movement on what the USOC and the National Governing Bodies should look like into the future.

One suggestion for the Commission, whenever it gets formed: it would be helpful to find out how the current statute – the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act – was created, back in 1978. The person most responsible for it is retired, but very much in good health and good spirits: Mike Harrigan.

Call him first, then call others.

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