Walden, McMorris Rodgers cite report findings as basis for further congressional review

U.S. Reps. Greg Walden (R-OR) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) last week commended report findings on the failing structure and governance of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic community as a basis for more committee hearings in their chamber.

The Athlete and National Governing Bodies (NGB) Engagement Commission, also known as the Borders Commission, on July 17 released a final report that found “a broken, dysfunctional system that facilitated the abuse of athletes, but also has underserved them.”

“That is simply unacceptable,” said Rep. Walden, ranking member of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. McMorris Rodgers, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, in a statement released on July 18.

The independent Borders Commission was appointed by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and tasked with making recommendations on how the USOPC could more effectively oversee its 50-member National Governing Bodies (NGBs) and support the athletes it serves.

“The findings reiterate what we found in our bipartisan investigation last Congress — that the USOPC failed to prioritize athlete safety and that athletes were harmed as a result,” Reps. Walden and McMorris Rodgers said in a joint statement with U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Republican leader of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. “Fortunately, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and the National Governing Bodies for each sport have already made substantial progress addressing our recommendations, but important work remains.”

Nevertheless, the lawmakers added that it’s time for the House Energy and Commerce Committee to hold additional hearings “to explore changes made to date and discuss what Congress should do next.”

On Dec. 20, 2018, the committee released “Nassar and Beyond: A Review of the Olympic Community’s Efforts to Protect Athletes from Sexual Abuse,” which summarizes its findings following a year-long investigation. The Borders Commission extensively referenced the committee’s report in its final report.

The Borders Commission said that the USOPC ”has taken a too limited and narrow view of its role and responsibilities — going forward they must be broader.”

“Prioritizing the protection, service and advancement of athletes is expected to enable successful competitions manifested through earned medals as well as healthy athletes upon and during retirement,” according to the commission’s report.

“We commend the Borders Commission for completing this thoughtful and important work,” the members added.