Olympic and Paralympic Sports Act

It’s with great excitement to share that both the Senate and House of Representatives has passed the “Olympic Reform Bill” enabling more protections for Olympic athletes. It’s now been over eight years, since when I was an elected official, and passed a motion with the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), that allowed me to investigate all the financials, polices and board presentations of the USOPC. I had many investigative conversations with the past CEO, CFO and many other executives in pursuit of a simple question. Why don’t these non-profit sports organizations have more money to support our nation’s best athletes?

I can still feel the silence in the board room, when I made my sixty minute presentation in front of dozens of elected members. I shared my findings that just 6% actually made it to athletes in direct support, a pittance of the hundreds of millions of dollars of income the organization received nearly for free, every year. I was lectured by the chairman of EA sports, the CEO of Xerox, and many others about how there just isn’t enough resources for everyone. I found that a convenient perspective, when they were paid first class to attend the Olympics, while athletes went broke and sexually abused.

But change in our society doesn’t happen overnight. Many people were upset that I presented my views, and consistently undermined them. Others took my research and called it their own, while others formed a committee. But I was never alone in the Olympic Journey and the quest for us to do better as a country.

As an Olympian, you’re forced to never give up. Never give in and never let up from the sense of responsibility for others. Thanks to all those that cared enough to standup for one another.

I heard hundreds of other athlete stories on the way, much worse than my own plight. I may have been one of the first ones in the fight to speak out publicly, but the real hero’s, the ones that deserve all the credit, are those that were sexually and mentally abused. They tipped the scales of right vs wrong and forced change. I’m sorry your lives will never be the same, but I hope with improved legislation the appropriate accountability will finally be delivered. Every kid, including my own, deserves a pathway to success that is safe, fair and transparent.

I want to thank congresswoman Diane DeGette for taking up this important legislation, and spending time with me so I could share my findings. Senators Jerry Moran and Richard Blumenthal for sponsoring this bill and Senator Gardner of Colorado. Senator Rubio for also listening to me and supporting much needed changeover the years.

Also the numerous press writers from the Washington Post, HBO, ABC and NPR provided with my input and others, helped keep these issues front and center over the last eight years. Although this is a significant step, the need for new leaders to rise up, and do the right thing above their own interests is critical at this time.

So go for it, run for office. You might find that eight years later something significant may happen, that will make you happy.