US fencer Alen Hadzic kept apart from team in Tokyo after sexual misconduct claims

  • 29-year-old denies allegations against him
  • Fencer appealed his ban from the Olympic Village and lost

One day before the Tokyo Olympic Games were slated to officially begin, fencer Alen Hadzic, Team USA’s men’s épée alternate, lost his appeal to move into the Olympic Village, according to a report from USA Today.

Hadzic qualified for the Tokyo Games in May. Shortly thereafter, three women accused him of sexual impropriety in incidents that occurred from 2013 to 2015. Hadzic’s attorney, Michael Palma, told the New York Times the fencer has never committed sexual assault or been charged with rape or with any civil or criminal complaint involving sexual impropriety. He did confirm that Hadzic was suspended from Columbia University for the 2013-14 school year after an investigation involving sexual consent.

In the wake of the allegations, the US Center for SafeSport suspended the 29-year-old from all fencing activities on 2 June. Hadzic appealed that suspension and won; on 29 June, an independent arbitrator restored his Olympic eligibility.

However, USA Fencing ruled Hadzic would have to travel to Tokyo separately from his teammates and that he would not be allowed to stay in the Olympic Village. The governing body cited safety concerns and a desire to minimize distractions in its ruling, which Hadzic appealed.

Calling those restrictions “arbitrary and unnecessary,” Hadzic filed a complaint with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Its ruling Thursday did not fully lift the restrictions; rather, it permitted him to move to a hotel closer to the Olympic training center. His prior accommodations had been 30 minutes from the Olympic Village.

On Friday, BuzzFeed News reported some of Hadzic’s teammates on the US fencing squad believed he should not be part of the squad. “We are pissed off that this is even a thing we had to deal with,” one fencer, who filed a complaint against Hadzic alleging predatory behavior, told BuzzFeed News. “He’s been protected again and again.”

The fencing competition begins on Sunday, and Hadzic will compete only if a teammate becomes sick or is injured.


Joan Niesen

The GuardianTramp