Ernst-Supported Bipartisan Bill to Address U.S. Olympics Abuse Scandal Signed Into Law

The enactment of the sweeping reform legislation is a culmination of the Iowa senator’s efforts to address the abuses within the U.S. Olympic system.

WASHINGTON – The bipartisan Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athletes Act, supported by U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), an outspoken advocate for survivors of sexual abuse, was recently signed into law. Ernst helped pass the legislation in the Senate to ensure the resources designated for investigating abuses of Olympic and amateur athletes are safeguarded and put to proper use.
 
“For decades, Larry Nassar perpetrated acts of sexual abuse against hundreds of young female athletes, and the U.S. Olympic system failed to take action” said Senator Ernst, a survivor of sexual assault. “To help ensure this horrific abuse never happens again, I worked to pass bipartisan legislation that will help empower our athletes, improve the process for reporting abuse, and restore trust and integrity in the U.S. Olympic system. I’m grateful for my colleagues and the president in getting this important bill signed into law.” 
 
The Empowering Olympic and Amateur Athletes Act will:
  • Empower athletes by giving them a seat at the decision-making table, and significantly increases athlete representation on governing boards, committees and panels within National Governing Bodies (NBGs) and the USOPC to help identify problematic policies and practices faster, while prioritizing athlete-centric solutions;
  • Bolster resources for the U.S. Center for SafeSport while ensuring its independence from the USOPC and the NGBs;
  • Require relevant SafeSport training, so athletes know how to identify abuse, and so adults know how to prevent it;
  • Strengthen and codify reporting mandates for adults with knowledge of any allegation of child abuse of an amateur athlete;
  • Protect individuals who report emotional, physical or sexual abuse of an athlete from retaliation within the Olympic movement;
  • Promote safety by requiring NGBs to enforce SafeSport sanctions and directing SafeSport to maintain a public list of all barred coaches and individuals;
  • Bolster USOC auditing and reporting requirements, so that Congress can better provide regular oversight; and
  • Establish legislative mechanisms by which Congress can dissolve the Board of the U.S. Olympic Committee and decertify NGBs.
 
Background:
After the news first broke of Nassar’s abuse of hundreds of young athletes, Ernst called for a special Senate committee to investigate the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) and USA Gymnastics regarding how team doctor Larry Nassar was allowed to sexually abuse female gymnasts over decades.
 
Ernst is also a proud bipartisan supporter of the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017, which was signed into law by President Trump in February 2018.