U.S. Olympic fencers took a public stand against their teammate who was banned from the Olympic Village over accusations of sexual misconduct but allowed to compete.
When the U.S. men’s épée team took the Olympic stage before facing Japan Friday, three of the four athletes wore pink masks. Alen Hadzic, who recently lost an appeal to move into the Olympic Village over sexual misconduct allegations, wore a black mask.
Hadzic is currently living at a hotel near the village. He was signed onto the team as an alternate.
The subject of a recent SafeSport investigation, Hadzic was suspended on by that organization on June 2 after three women accused him of sexual misconduct on separate occasions when he was at Columbia Universty.
here's a picture of the team before their first match began.— Bradford William Davis (@BWDBWDBWD) July 30, 2021
Alen Hadžić -- the épéeist accused of sexual assault -- is on the left, not wearing the pink mask https://t.co/Ov40ggMIf5 pic.twitter.com/k84kuEax3u
One woman accused him of misconduct back in 2015, which lead to a Title IX suspension. Another woman accused Hadzic of grabbing her buttocks and slamming her against a dresser in 2015 after she had turned down his advances at a bar earlier in the evening.
Hadzic has repeatedly denied the allegations, telling USA Today: "They’re just frankly not true.” His lawyer Michael Palma criticized SafeSport for the initial suspension absent criminal or civil charges against Hadzic.
“Team athletes have expressed concerns for their safety and well-being arising from your presence, which they say are likely to adversely affect their mental and emotional abilities to prepare and compete at the highest levels required for success in the Olympic Games,” read an email to Hadzic from USA Fencing CEO Kris Ekeren. “Several have asked that USA Fencing put measures in place to keep them safe and minimize distractions from training and competition. Accordingly, USA Fencing, in conjunction with the USOPC, will implement a safety plan for the upcoming Olympic Games.”
Hadzic appealed that decision and was allowed to move to a hotel that was closer to the Olympic Village.