“We are pissed off that this is even a thing we had to deal with,” an Olympic fencer who filed a complaint against Hadzic alleging predatory behavior, said.
Alen Hadzic is an alternate in the United States Olympic fencing team, despite being under investigation for his alleged sexual misconduct, reports USA Today. Due to the allegations against him, he's facing restrictions, but his attorneys think they are completely arbitrary and unnecessary. Per The New York Times, Hadzic was accused of sexual impropriety by three women in incidents that occurred from 2013 to 2015.
Based on the accusations, the fencer was suspended from any fencing activities on June 2, 2021, by the U.S. Center for SafeSport. This meant that the 29-year-old's chance to compete at the Tokyo Olympics had come to an end. But he appealed, and his suspension was overturned by an arbitrator on June 29. He was finally free to compete in the Olympics.
“Rules are rules”—which is why Sha’Carri Richardson is suspended from the Olympic Team for 1 pot violation, but Alen Hadzic gets to compete despite his suspension for investigations into his repeated sexual assault— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@QasimRashid) July 24, 2021
“Rules” seem magically absent for some🤔https://t.co/JtJBp8IwIf pic.twitter.com/uSzR6gKSj8
Judge Sherrie L. Krauser, who presided over the hearing, lifted the suspension and, according to the documents, stated, “I find that the ‘temporary suspension' is inappropriate to the allegations. Specifically, I find that the lack of any allegation of misconduct in the past two years, the continuing probation supervision of USA Fencing, and the strict regulation of members of the U.S. Olympic team provide sufficient guarantees to the safety or well-being of others to lift the temporary suspension."
“Further, I do not find it likely that (Mr. Hadzic)’s continued participation would be detrimental to the reputation of the United States or his sport. For these reasons, I find that the temporary suspension is lifted as not warranted by the facts and circumstances of the allegations.”
Attorney Michael Palma, who is representing Hadzic, says USA Fencing has known of the allegations made by the three women “for years’’ and but there were no restrictions implemented for Hadzic while he competed all over the world with USA Fencing teams.
A 29 year old fencer under investigation for at least THREE complaints of sexual misconduct is representing the US at the #Olympics.— Leia (@TheSWPrincess) July 25, 2021
SafeSport suspended Alen Hadzic from international competition last month, but he appealed & won.
HOW DOES THIS MAKE SENSE? https://t.co/0hT2VGZI0H
Meanwhile, the athletic federation in charge of selecting the country’s Olympic competitors created a “safety plan” to keep the alternate on the men’s épée team away from women and out of the Olympic Village. He was made to fly in on a separate plane from his teammates, is staying at a hotel 30 minutes away from the other athletes, and won't be allowed to practice alongside women teammates.
But many of his teammates still believe he shouldn't be allowed to compete at all. “We are pissed off that this is even a thing we had to deal with,” an Olympic fencer who filed a complaint against Hadzic alleging predatory behavior told BuzzFeed News. “He’s been protected again and again.”
Hadzic has, however, denied all allegations against him. “Frankly, they’re untruths,'' he said. "They’re just frankly not true." He also added that despite keeping to himself, other athletes have been coming over to speak to him.
“I didn’t know what the atmosphere would be like until I came here, and then when I actually got to the training facility all of the coaches shook my hand and congratulated me on making the team,'' Hadzic said. "All of the fencers that I thought would be afraid to speak with me, all came up to me and said hi. Even the women."
The Olympics fencing competitions began on July 24, and if anyone from the men’s épée team gets injured or sick, Hadzic will replace them on the international forum.
Cover Image Source: Wikimedia Commons | Marie-Lan Nguyen