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Kansas senator proposes bill for US Olympic Committee reform

Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran
Posted at 4:59 PM, Jul 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-30 19:22:37-04

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Sen. Jerry Moran and Sen. Richard Blumenthal know all eyes are going to be on Team USA a little less than a year from now at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

They want to make sure that not only gymnasts are protected from abuse, but every athlete on the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams are safe.

"People look the other way and they put medals and money above morals," Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, said.

The senators are angry at the U.S. Olympic Committee, the FBI and USA Gymnastics for their actions regarding Larry Nassar.

Nassar was the USA Gymnastics team doctor convicted of sexually abusing athletes for years.

"USA Gymnastics was really rotten to the core. It failed athletes that were in its care, but USOC, in effect, refused to recognize reality," Moran, a Kansas Republican, said.

A new report stated that the organizations all failed to do something about Nassar for 421 days.

"It is hard to find incidents where what should of happened, happened," Moran said.

To make sure it doesn't happen again, the two senators introduced a sweeping bill that will reform the committees.

The politicians wrote, "First and foremost, our legislation will implement requirements to promote a culture where athletes and their best interests are put first."

The bill would give athletes a seat at the decision making table, protect anyone who reports abuse and train coaches in how to spot wrongdoing.

"The abuses that were allowed to go on were allowed to go on for too long," Cory Meredith, owner of Integrity Gymnastics, Dance and Cheer said.

Meredith is a coach and gym owner in Overland Park. 41 Action News spoke to her back in November regarding USA Gymnastics. She made the suggestion that athletes should be given the opportunity to sit on Olympic committees, and now, that might happen.

"They are the ones who are on the ground in the gyms every day. Seeing what the culture is like, seeing what is going on. We have to have their voices in there. It's really important those voices are there and they are heard," Meredith said.

She sees this bill as an opportunity to make the U.S. Olympic Team feel safer.

"I'm hopeful that its the positive experience that it is designed to be, where it pays off for them," Meredith said.

USA Gymnastics told NBC News that they have not seen the new report. But, they are looking forward to working with congress and already made numerous changes designed to prevent the opportunity for abuse to occur.