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Congress fumes over US Olympic uniforms 'Made in China'

Ralph Lauren, an American company, designed US Olympic uniforms. But members of Congress are angry that the US Olympic uniforms were made in China.

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Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., separately sent letters to Lawrence Probst III, chairman of the USOC, complaining about the made-in-China uniforms. Brown suggested that the USOC find a manufacturer with a facility in the United States, suggesting the Hugo Boss plant in Cleveland.

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"There is no compelling reason why all of the uniforms cannot be made here on U.S. soil at the same price, at better quality," Gillibrand wrote along with Israel.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., said that while millions of Americans are unemployed, "there is no reason why U.S. Olympic uniforms are not being manufactured in the U.S. This action on the part of the U.S. Olympic Committee is symbolic of a disastrous trade policy which has cost us millions of decent-paying jobs and must be changed."

In a tweet, U.S. track and field Olympian Nick Symmonds, who will compete in the 800-meter run at the London Games, wrote: "Our Ralph Lauren outfits for the Olympic opening ceremonies were made in China. So, um, thanks China."

This is hardly the first time patriotism has been discussed when it comes to Olympic clothing. The must-have souvenir of the 2002 Salt Lake Games was a fleece beret, something that athletes wore in the opening ceremony and prompted countless people to spend hours on lines waiting to purchase during those Olympics.

Those berets were made by Roots, a Canadian company that was the official U.S. team outfitter for that opening ceremony.

In the last four years, the USOC has faced criticism for some of its sponsorship deals as it has scrambled to deal with the economic downturn.

When General Motors left as a sponsor, the USOC signed a $24 million deal with German automaker BMW that raised eyebrows. At the time, the USOC highlighted the carmaker's 42-year history of selling cars in the United States and the fact that BMW has 7,000 American employees

The USOC and the International Olympic Committee also were criticized for sticking with BP as a sponsor after the deadly oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico.

ABC World News reported Wednesday night that the uniforms were made in China.

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IN PICTURES: Team USA's Olympic hopefuls

Associated Press writers Tim Reynolds in Miami, Alan Fram and Jim Abrams in Washington, Eddie Pells in Denver and Samantha Critchell in New York contributed to this report.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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