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Under pressure from Congress, U.S. Olympic leaders announce reforms

Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman gives her victim impact statement during the sentencing of Larry Nassar on Jan. 19, 2018.
Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman gives her victim impact statement during the sentencing of Larry Nassar on Jan. 19, 2018.
(Dale G. Young / Detroit News via AP)

Nearly two years after disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar was sent to prison for abusing young athletes, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee is still wrestling with the fallout, announcing the first installment in a series of “sweeping” reforms.

USOPC executives said Friday they will give athletes more say on their board of directors and increase oversight of the national governing bodies that manage each sport.

“These reforms are a significant first step of many, in our ongoing efforts to ensure our athletes are at the heart of what we do and who we are going forward,” Chief Executive Sarah Hirshland said. “We have taken action and will continue to take action.”

There has been widespread concern that organizations within the Olympic movement in the U.S. have not done enough to safeguard athletes, focusing instead on medals won.

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As the two organizations at the heart of the Nassar scandal, the USOPC and USA Gymnastics have undergone significant leadership overhauls. They have faced stern criticism from Congress, where legislators have proposed a harsher set of changes.

According to the USOPC bylaw amendments announced Friday — which executives characterized as “the most sweeping … in nearly two decades” — athletes will be guaranteed one-third of the seats on the board.

The committee also vowed to more actively monitor the governing bodies under its umbrella while requiring greater transparency and compliance on issues such as athlete safety and finances.

“We promised changes to our structure and our practices that are revolutionary and substantive,” chairwoman Susanne Lyons said.

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The reforms will go into effect in January.


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