U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing titled, “Athlete Safety and the Integrity of U.S. Sport,” at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, February 5, 2020. The hearing will examine issues under the committee’s sports jurisdiction, including protecting the health and safety of American athletes and enhancing the integrity of U.S. sports.
- Ms. Ju’Riese Colón, Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Center for SafeSport
- Mr. Tory Lindley, President, National Athletic Trainers’ Association
- Mr. Travis Tygart, Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency
*Witness list subject to change
Wednesday, February 5, 2020
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
This hearing will take place in the Hart Senate Office Building 216. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.
Chairman Roger Wicker
Americans love sports. Whether we are cheering on our children at a little league baseball game and soccer tournament, or gathering around our televisions to watch highly-trained professional athletes compete – as most of us did on Sunday. Sporting events entertain and captivate us all year round. Athletics also inspire us; helps us build character, develops teamwork skills, and unites diverse communities across the country and around the world.
As the committee of jurisdiction over youth, amateur, collegiate, and professional sports, we are committed to maintaining a positive, healthy, safe, and vibrant sports environment for all athletes. Today’s hearing is an opportunity to discuss a range of policy issues impacting the sports world in the United States and abroad.
This summer, hundreds of athletes will represent the United States at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Over the past two years, this committee has been investigating the issue of sexual abuse within the Olympic community.
I applaud the courageous survivors of these reprehensible acts. They have stepped forward, they have had to re-live these terrible past events, and helped start and shape a national imperative to right these wrongs. Let me thank Senators Moran and Blumenthal for their leadership in developing legislation to establish meaningful reforms within the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
These reforms will increase accountability for those involved in wrongdoing and protect athletes against this type of abuse in the future. I will continue working with Senators Moran and Blumenthal to get this important legislation across the finish line and passed into law.
This morning, I hope to discuss changes that have been made within the SafeSport organization to create a safer environment for athletes and swiftly address reports of misconduct.
The physical health and safety of athletes on the field or in sports arenas has also been a matter of concern. According to reports, concussion rates among student and professional athletes are on the rise. In addition, every year a number of children die suddenly from cardiac arrest or other medical conditions that were not previously disclosed.
Today we provide an opportunity for witnesses to share their insights about how to protect athletes across all age groups and skill levels from these types of incidents. I also look forward to discussing how to ensure coaches and medical personnel on site are properly certified and follow established protocols and procedures to reduce safety risks to players.
Integrity in sports is critical to fair play and healthy competition. Reports of sign-stealing in baseball and other types of cheating only serve to harm the hard work and dedication of athletes.
Unfortunately, doping has long-been an issue that threatens sport integrity across disciplines. In December, the World Anti-Doping Agency issued a decision that would ban Russia from international competition for four years because of its state-sponsored doping scheme. Russia has appealed that decision.
The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, which passed the House last year, represents a further effort to remove performance-enhancing drugs from sports. This legislation would impose stronger penalties on those involved in doping schemes and related conspiracy.
Today’s hearing is an opportunity to discuss the merits of this legislation and how it can advance clean sports in the United States and around the world.
Finally, many states are proposing legislation that would require compensation to collegiate athletes for the use of their names, images, or likenesses. As debates on these legislative proposals advance, I hope sport integrity is a guiding principle for all parties involved. I look forward to Senator Moran exploring this issue further at his subcommittee hearing next week.
So, I thank the witnesses for being with us today – I look forward to it.
With that, I turn to my dear friend and colleague, Ranking Member Cantwell.
Ranking Member Maria Cantwell
CANTWELL: Thank you Mr. Chairman, thank you for mentioning the issue of sexual assault that continues to plague sports and the horrifying events that this committee has tried to deal with. I know that it’s going to be a continued effort by everyone not to have this unacceptable silence when these events happen. So I was proud to support the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017, I hope that we’ll continue to work on improving the last parts of that legislation, so we can get it passed by the full Congress.
One of the most important sports-related issues facing the committee is to protect our athletes from the dangers of concussions. There’s nothing scarier than an injury when you can see, and when you’ve learned so much in the recent years about the devastating impacts on this. I was proud that the state of Washington led the way on this issue, in 2009 passing the Zachary Listedt Law to reduce concussions in youth sports, one of the first in the nation laws in this area. It requires schools to educate coaches, students, and athletes about their impacts received from serious head injuries.
It also requires athletes to be removed from the field when they are suspected of having suffered a concussion, and have a licensed medical professional to clear them. It also created the US Center for Safe Sports, uh—actually wait a minute sorry I got my pages out of order here, sorry Mr. Chairman—I think I’m looking forward to hearing from Ms. Colon today about safe sports writ large, and some of the efforts their organization is doing to help take these laws from the local level and push them through at the federal level. I know as we approach the Summer Olympics, I hope that we’ll continue to focus on many diverse issues here that are facing our athletes across the board.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Witness Panel 1
Ms. Ju’Riese ColónChief Executive OfficerU.S. Center for SafeSport
Mr. Tory LindleyPresidentNational Athletic Trainers’ Association
Mr. Travis TygartChief Executive OfficerU.S. Anti-Doping Agency