Amid allegations of sexual assault, a U.S. Olympic fencer is facing restrictions he deems “arbitrary and unnecessary” at the Tokyo Games.
Alen Hadzic, 29, received a temporary suspension from the U.S. Center for SafeSport in June after three women accused him of sexual misconduct between 2013-2015. An arbitrator overturned the suspension last month, allowing Hadzic to compete in the Olympics as an alternate in the men’s epee competition, which starts on Sunday.
Hadzic’s experience, though, will be abnormal. According to an official complaint filed by Hadzic, USA Fencing forced him to fly by himself to Tokyo, train separately from the rest of the team and is bunking him in a hotel instead of the Olympic Village. USA Fencing maintained that “team athletes have expressed concerns for their safety and well-being arising from (Hadzic’s) presence.”
Hadzic has requested that the restrictions be lifted prior to Friday’s Opening Ceremony. An arbitration hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
“Fundamentally, (USA Fencing) wants to hide Mr. Hadzic and keep him from participating in the Olympic experience that he has rightfully earned,” Hadzic’s attorney, Michael Palma, wrote in the complaint. “(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.”
Hadzic has repeatedly denied the allegations against him.
“Frankly, they’re untruths,” Hadzic told USA Today. “They’re just frankly not true.”
Hadzic, a New Jersey native, qualified for the Tokyo Olympics on May 7. Should he appear in the Games, it will be his Olympics debut, after he narrowly missed qualifying for the 2016 Games in Rio.