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31 Jul, 2021 08:46

US fencers ‘wear pink in protest’ at teammate separated from Olympic squad over accusations by multiple women of sexual misconduct

US fencers ‘wear pink in protest’ at teammate separated from Olympic squad over accusations by multiple women of sexual misconduct

A US fencer who was given a "safety plan" to "keep him away from all women at the Olympic Village" appears to have been ostracized by his teammates wearing pink – with one of his accusers saying one case should have ruled him out.

American fencing bosses are said to have made Alen Hadzic fly to the Tokyo Olympics on his own, stay in a separate hotel and train on his own after athletes "expressed concerns for their safety and well-being arising from [his] presence".

The alternate on the US men's epee team, who has repeatedly denied all of the allegations made against him, was suspended by the US Center for SafeSport in June after three women accused him of sexual assault on three different occasions, only to overturn that decision via an appeal later that month.

Now three of his teammates – Jake Hoyle, Curtis McDowald and Yeisser Ramirez – have shown what an American reporter described as "disdain" for Hadzic by wearing pink, which has become an increasing trend among athletes who want to subtly share their views or raise awareness of issues they feel strongly about.

“I think one case is enough for you to not be allowed to compete at the f*cking Olympics,” one of Hadzic's accusers was quoted as anonymously telling USA Today.

“It really makes you question how far someone needs to go in order for them not to be able to compete.’’

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee imposed the sanctions on Hadzic.

In an email apparently obtained by the outlet, USA Fencing CEO Kris Ekeren is said to have explained to Hadzic that competitors felt his presence was "likely to adversely affect their mental and emotional abilities to prepare and compete at the highest levels required for success in the Olympic Games".

“Several have asked that USA Fencing put measures in place to keep them safe and minimize distractions from training and competition," she added, according to the report.

"Accordingly, USA Fencing, in conjunction with the USOPC, will implement a safety plan for the upcoming Olympic Games.”

Some have accused SafeSport, which was set up to investigate claims of sexual abuse around the Americans' Olympic programs, of failing athletes.

There have also been unfavorable comparisons between the way Hadzic has been treated and the exclusion of sprint star Sha'Charri Richardson for a positive cannabis test, with the Guardian claiming there had been "differing treatment of a black female athlete and a white male" that demonstrated "the double standards that permeate sport".

In a lengthy timeline investigation of Hadzic's past, Buzzfeed claimed one Olympic fencer had told them that the 29-year-old had been "protected again and again" and spoke to an accuser who called him a "predator".

“We are p*ssed off that this is even a thing we had to deal with,” they were quoted as saying from Tokyo.

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Another reportedly recalled: “He made my life a living hell at Columbia because he was extremely emotionally and psychologically abusive.

“At the time, nothing could be done. We were all so helpless in the situation because he just continues to get what he wants because he is a really fantastic fencer.”

Hadzic has labeled the allegations "untruths". His attorney, Michael Palma, has insisted that the athlete has never committed any acts of sexual assault.

The backup did not compete in his nation's 45-39 defeat to Japan, which sealed ninth place for the US in the competition.

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