Brooks, Gardner push for bipartisan bill to reform U.S. Olympic Committee

U.S. Rep. Susan W. Brooks (R-IN) on June 18 introduced the U.S. House of Representatives version of a bipartisan bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) to establish the Commission on the State of U.S. Olympics and Paralympics to improve the safety of athletes.

Rep. Brooks cosponsored the Strengthening U.S. Olympics Act, H.R. 3303, with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO).

“Amateur athletic government bodies can and should do more to protect the safety and health of all of our nation’s athletes so they can perform their sport without fear of abuse,” Rep. Brooks said.

If enacted, S. 132/H.R. 3303 would create an independent, blue-ribbon commission to reform the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC). The proposed 16-member commission would include members with experience in athletics, advocacy or coaching, and at least eight Olympic or Paralympic athletes. The top Democratic and Republican lawmakers in both the House and Senate each would appoint four members to serve on the commission.

The commission would have nine months to review how the USOC operates and would recommend to Congress how to reform its governing structure to better protect the nation’s top athletes. The commission would have the power to subpoena witnesses and information from federal agencies as part of its review.

Sen. Gardner promoted the legislation during a press conference earlier this week.

“In Colorado, we’re proud of our Olympic city, Colorado Springs, and all that our Olympic athletes mean to our great state, but we know we can do better,” said Sen. Gardner during the press conference. “We’ll continue working together to strengthen USOC and the state of U.S. Olympics — including the safety of our Olympic and Paralympic athletes.”

Sen. Gardner first introduced the Senate bill in January following release in December 2018 of a bipartisan congressional report that found at least two senior-level Olympic committee officials knew about the sexual abuse allegations against former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar for more than a year before they were made public, but failed to act.