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Olympics-U.S. reform bill approved by Congress, awaits Trump signature

Legislation that will trigger a massive overhaul of the U.S. Olympic system offering athletes greater protection and more input into decision making was unanimously passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday and sent to the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature.

Arising from the Larry Nassar gymnastics sex abuse scandal, the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athletes Act calls for increased funding for the U.S. Center for SafeSport and more athlete representation on the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) board and sport National Governing Bodies (NGB).

If both fail to follow up on reforms, new mechanisms would be in place to allow Congress to dissolve the USOPC board and decertify NGBs.

The bill, introduced by Republican senator Jerry Moran and Democrat senator Richard Blumenthal, followed an 18-month investigation that found Nassar, the former team doctor for USA Gymnastics, was able to assault hundreds of girls and women because of a lack of transparency and accountability among U.S. Olympic officials, coaches and trainers.

“The very institutions charged with protecting these athletes failed countless times, choosing to ignore or cover up abuse rather than defend and protect athletes and survivors,” Moran and Blumenthal said in a joint statement.

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