On Tuesday January 30, the Senate gave final approval to a bill to protect Olympic athletes from potential abuse by toughening requirements on the US Olympic Committee and by increasing protection for survivors. The House acted on a modified version of S 534, the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act the day before.

“Today is the culmination of months of hard work in the Senate and House, and by the many gymnasts and other athletes who championed this bill and advocated passionately for its passage. Every adult involved in amateur and collegiate athletics must now know that they have a responsibility to protect the young athletes in their care,” said Senator Feinstein. “The days of turning a blind eye to abuse are over. This vital reform was only possible because of the incredibly courageous women who decided to come forward, share their pain and do all they could to make sure this dark chapter is never repeated. They all deserve our thanks.

In her statement, Feinstein thanked organizations that supported the bill and legislation including the Child Welfare League of America. The Senate acted on the compromise bill on November 14, after negotiations with key House members. The legislation, which has had the active support of CWLA, was originally introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and cosponsored by Senator John Thune (R-SD), Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator Joe Donnelly (R-IN) and Senator Todd Young (R-IN). After passage Feinstein said, “Sexual abuse is one of the most heinous crimes and our legislation will finally ensure that adults who are responsible for the safety of millions of young athletes will be held accountable for preventing abuse and reporting any allegation of abuse.”

The bipartisan legislation will create new responsibilities within these Olympic training facilities through greater accountability of the national governing body that oversees the development, training and participation of Olympic athletes. The bill mandates and requires certain child abuse reporting responsibilities for personnel and protections for athletes and extends civil action for past victims of child abuse. Victims could file civil actions ten years after 18 years of age or 10 years after realizations of the act whichever is later. There are directives on the Olympic governing body and their affiliates that include training on practices and policy to prevent abuse, limits on one on one supervision and protections for reporters of such abuse.