Chuck Grassley reminds U.S. Olympic Committee about requirements for its tax exemption

Finance chairman fires off new questions about the USOC's handling of sexual abuse

Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley is raising questions about the U.S. Olympic Committee’s tax status. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The United States Olympic Committee might have more cause to worry about its tax exemption.

In a new letter to USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland, new Senate Finance Charles E. Grassley asks a series of questions about the committee’s work to protect athletes from abuse.

Among the questions is what the USOC is doing to support the abuse victims of former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. Grassley also asked about the status of gymnastics specifically.

“A few months ago, the USOC began the process to decertify USA Gymnastics as a National Governing Body,” Grassley wrote. “Do you plan to continue with the decertification process despite USA Gymnastics filing for bankruptcy? If not, why not?”

Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, has been one of the senators involved in the Senate’s oversight of the Olympic and amateur sports movement in recent years, and he has new leverage as Finance chairman.

“As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the USOC is required to comply with its stated purpose in order to maintain its tax-exempt status. This Committee, which concerns itself with matters of taxation, among many other things, has an interest in ensuring proper compliance,“ Grassley wrote.

Grassley wrote that under current law, the safety of athletes is part and parcel of the USOC’s stated purpose for tax purposes, and his conversations with former athletes have him showing a bit of skepticism.

“In my discussions with multiple gymnasts who reported being victimized by Mr. Nassar, a common theme that emerged was the general lack of oversight performed by the USOC,” Grassley wrote. “This hands-off approach allowed Olympic Training Sites such as the Karolyi Ranch, where much of the sexual abuse occurred, to operate with no appropriate oversight to protect athletes from sexual abuse.”

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