Resources about Commercial Rights

The Athlete Ombudsman is available to offer athletes confidential advice regarding their rights and obligations involving commercial terms and can assist athletes with questions about the following general topics:

  • Right to their image, right of publicity and general media releases
  • Athlete Agreements containing commercial obligations
  • Commercial/Sponsor appearances for NGBs
  • Individual sponsorship agreements (to a limited extent)
  • Right to select Personal Performance Gear during protected competition
  • Rule 40 and advertising restrictions during the Games
  • Rule 50 and manufacturer logo restrictions (with IF regulations, or at the Games)
  • IPC advertising and manufacturer logo guidelines during a Game
  • Social media guidelines during a Games

*Coming soon will be expanded information about those topics. 

Below, we have included a brief overview of the USOC policies, but athletes should consult the full documents for more information.

USOC Policy Regarding NGB Athlete Agreements

The USOC recognizes the right of NGBs to require certain agreements on the part of athletes as a condition of participation in membership, events, teams, or programs of the NGB. These agreements may include terms that help the NGB comply with International Olympic Committee (“IOC”), International Paralympic Committee (“IPC”), Pan American Sports Organization (“PASO”), International Federation (“IF”), and USOC requirements, field successful and competitive teams, and promote and generate support for the NGB itself (including via the use of athlete names, images, and likenesses other than for Commercial Use.). The USOC also recognizes the right of each NGB to control the use of its name, marks, and other indicia.

 At the same time, the USOC recognizes the right of each athlete to be treated fairly and consistently and to clearly understand what is required of him/her in order to participate, as well as the right of each athlete to control the commercial use of his/her name, image, and likeness. 

 The NGB Athlete Agreements policy sets out basic parameters for certain agreements that an NGB should explicitly require of its athletes as a condition of participation, and optional commercial agreements that must remain voluntary, in a way that balances the rights and needs of both NGBs and athletes.

Specialized Equipment (Personal Performance Gear)

Pursuant to the Olympic Charter, the National Olympic Committee, in this case the USOC, has the “sole and exclusive authority to prescribe and determine the clothing and uniforms to be worn, and the equipment to be used” during the Olympic Games, including during competition and during ceremonies. The Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) Statute has an identical rule for the Pan American Games. However, this authority does not extend to specialized equipment used by athletes in competition.

The Olympic Charter and PASO Statute define specialized equipment as having a material effect on the performance of athletes, due to the specialized characteristics of the equipment. An athlete has the right to select his or her specialized equipment for use at the Olympic Games, Pan American Games, and other protected competitions as defined in Section 1.3(w) of the USOC Bylaws. Although the IPC does not have a comparable the rule, the USOC has extended this right to Paralympic athletes. For each sport included on the Olympic, Pan American. Paralympic, or ParaPan American Games program, the USOC, after input from the NGB and respective AAC rep, has designated a list of specialized equipment for winter and summer sports. Below you can find links to the lists:

Olympic Personal Performance Gear List - Summer Sports
Olympic Personal Performance Gear List - Winter Sports

Paralympic Personal Performance Gear List - Summer Sports
Paralympic Personal Performance Gear List - Winter Sports