The term whistleblower is a sports reference. Referees blow the whistle when an athlete does something wrong on the field. But, when wrong-doing happens off the field – such as abuse or doping — athletes sometimes have to make the call.

Often, it doesn’t go well. Two bills pending in Congress would offer more protection for athletes who come forward with information on misdeeds.

Recent amendments to a pending bill aim to strengthen whistleblower protections for Olympic and amateur athletes.The “Empowering Olympic and Amateur Athletes Act” now includes anti-retaliation language. The amendments would also ensure that the U.S. Center for SafeSport, a non-profit that investigates abuse of amateur athletes, reports cases involving children to authorities. Like teachers and others who work with children, the organization would be held to the reporting requirement of the Federal Victims of Child Abuse Act. The organization would also be subject to an annual audit.

The bill is designed to address ongoing criticism of the agency, including some issues highlighted in an October Orange County Register story. The story described the frustrated parents who say the agency has been slow to address charges that two Chicago-area gymnastics coaches physically, verbally and emotionally abused athletes.


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