Shaheen Calls on Congress to Rewrite USOC’s Federal Charter to Provide More Oversight & Fairly Compensate American Athletes
SHAHEEN: “It is clear that USOC is not fulfilling its core mission to support and protect our Olympic athletes and I believe Congress should consider revoking or rewriting USOC’s charter to include more oversight.”
Senators Shaheen and Ernst previously introduced a bipartisan resolution to establish a special committee to investigate USOC and USA Gymnastics regarding decades-long abuse by ex-team doctor Larry Nassar
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) testified before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security this afternoon during a hearing on preventing abuse in Olympic and amateur athletics. Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to hold the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) and USA Gymnastics accountable regarding how former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar was allowed to sexually abuse athletes for decades unabated. During the hearing, Shaheen called for Congress to consider revoking or rewriting USOC’s federal charter to include more oversight, and to provide US athletes and teams with 50 percent of all revenue brought in by the Committee.
“Because the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) operates under a federal charter and its athletes compete under the American flag, I believe strongly that the Senate has a responsibility to investigate the allegations of abuse brought forward by these athletes and any other misconduct on the part of USOC and the National Governing Bodies,” said Shaheen. “That is why I joined with Senator Joni Ernst on a resolution to establish a Senate special committee to provide an independent and comprehensive inquiry into what has been called the worst sex abuse scandal in the history of sports. It’s also why I so appreciate the important work that is being done by this Committee to ensure that the individuals who enabled these horrible crimes are held accountable and safeguards are put in place to protect our Olympic and amateur athletes.”
In her testimony, Senator Shaheen highlighted that the U.S. Olympic Committee generates nearly $340 million in revenue, but in 2016, gave only 8 percent of those proceeds directly to athletes. Additionally, top executives at USOC enjoyed exorbitant compensation, with the CEO receiving a salary on the verge of $1 million. Other USOC employees were allotted $100,000 or more. Meanwhile, American athletes have been forced to crowdsource funding just so they can afford to compete at the Olympic Games.
Citing the heinous allegations of sexual abuse against US athletes, coupled with USOC’s excessive expenditures for top executives, Senator Shaheen called on Congress to consider reviewing USOC’s charter. “It is clear that USOC is not fulfilling its core mission to support and protect our Olympic athletes and I believe Congress should consider revoking or rewriting USOC’s charter to include more oversight,” said Shaheen. “The new charter should state clearly that any future scandals will result in USOC losing its charter and its tax-exempt status. That new charter should also require USOC to give 50% of its revenues directly to athletes and teams.”
Senator Shaheen and Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) have called for a special committee to investigate USOC and USA Gymnastics regarding how Nassar was allowed to sexually abuse gymnasts over decades. Their bipartisan resolution to establish the special committee has substantial bipartisan support with 17 cosponsors. Shaheen and Ernst previously called on former USOC CEO Blackmun to resign earlier this year following reports that he was aware of sexual abuse allegations against Larry Nassar in 2015.