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A Team USA fencer filed a complaint with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee alleging that he is being forced to undergo “arbitrary and unnecessary” restrictions in Tokyo during the Olympics after he was accused of sexual assault.
Alen Hadzic has had his movements restricted in Tokyo by USA Fencing, and is also staying in a hotel instead of the Olympic Village. He has asked for the restrictions to be lifted before the Olympics kick off with the Opening Ceremony on Friday, and an arbitration hearing is set for Thursday, according to USA Today.
U.S. fencer accused of sexual misconduct
Hadzic, 29, was suspended in June by the U.S. Center for SafeSport after three women alleged that he committed sexual misconduct against them between 2013-15, per the report.
One woman said that Hadzic groped her in 2015, after she and a fencing teammate at Columbia were invited by Hadzic over to his home after walking home one night. Another woman reported Hadzic for sexual misconduct in 2013, when they both were at Columbia fencing, per the report. He was suspended for one year amid a Title IX investigation.
“I think one case is enough for you to not be allowed to compete at the f****** Olympics,” one of the women told USA Today anonymously. “It really makes you question how far someone needs to go in order for them not to be able to compete.’’
Hadzic denied the allegations against him.
“Frankly, they're untruths,” he said, via USA Today. “They’re just frankly not true.”
Hadzic’s suspension was lifted in time for him to make the trip to Tokyo for the Olympics this summer. He is the men’s epee alternate, and will compete if necessary once the competition starts on Sunday.
USA Fencing’s ‘safety plan’
USA Fencing described the restrictions placed on Hadzic in Japan as part of its “safety plan,” per the complaint, though the organization and the USOPC declined to comment.
Hadzic was made to fly to Japan two days after his teammates separately, and he is staying at a hotel that is about 30 minutes from the Olympic Village.
USA Fencing CEO Kris Ekeren wrote an email to Hadzic earlier this month explaining the decision to impose the restrictions.
“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,” the email said, via USA Today. “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’s attorney, Michael Palma, said that USA Fencing has known of these complaints for years and hasn’t ever put restrictions like this in place before now — even when Hadzic has been competing worldwide.
“Fundamentally, [USA Fencing] wants to hide Mr. Hadzic and keep him from participating in the Olympic experience that he has rightfully earned,” his attorneys wrote in the complaint, via USA Today. "[USA Fencing] states that they are required to segregate Mr. Hadzic from the Olympic experience in order to ‘increase parties’ physical and emotional safety throughout an investigation, support a fair and neutral process, and aid in prevention of retaliatory behaviors from all parties.”
Though he is upset and said that the experience in Japan isn’t “the experience that I earned,” Hadzic said he was received well by his teammates and coaches once he arrived.
“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, via USA Today. "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."
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