USOPC proposes more athletes on board as part of overhaul

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee is taking steps designed to help athletes in the wake of Olympic sex-abuse scandals.

These changes are part of a proposal, to rewrite the USOPC bylaws. The proposal comes 20 days after federal lawmakers — looking for a shake-up in the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal.

The USOPC portrayed its proposal as merely a first step and, indeed, the measures lack many of Congress’ more aggressive proposals, which included a quadrupling of funds for the U.S. Center for SafeSport and a provision that gave Congress authority to fire the entire USOPC board.

It did heed athletes’ calls for more representation, proposing an increase of their makeup on the board from 20% to 33%. But under this proposal, the extra 13% could come not from the Athletes’ Advisory Council but from the U.S. Olympians and Paralympians Association, an alumni group that had gone largely unmentioned in much of the reform talk to this point.

The USOPC would change the top line of its mission statement to read: “empower Team USA athletes to achieve sustained competitive excellence and well-being.” Previously, the well-being part was not mentioned.

The USOPC will hear comments on the proposal for 60 days before the board votes on it.

Its leaders say athletes are at the center of the overhaul they are trying to execute in the wake of Nassar and other sex-abuse scandals, though critics say the process is taking too long and not going far enough.

In reality, there is no quick way to overhaul an 87-page document that is filled with legalese and tiptoes through the confusing nature of the relationship involving the USOPC, the national governing bodies (NGBs) that run the individual sports and the athletes.

The USOPC proposal would give athletes more say in the way they govern themselves and in the running of the federation itself. It doesn’t delve into the difficulties of finding active and recently retired athletes who can devote the time and brain power to running these complex organizations.