US fencer accused of sexual misconduct confronts teammates after pink mask protest on Olympic stage


U.S. fencer Alen Hadzic, who was previously suspended following allegations of sexual misconduct, says he confronted his teammates after they deliberately wore pink masks ahead of the men’s épée event on Friday in an apparent protest of his place on the Olympic team.

Jake Hoyle, Curtis McDowald and Yeisser Ramirez all stood alongside Hadzic donning pink masks while Hadzic wore a black mask but the 29-year-old fencer told USA Today in an article published on Saturday that his teammates took a public stand against him without hearing his “side of the story.” 

US MEN’S FENCING TEAM WEAR PINK MASKS IN PROTEST OF TEAMMATE ACCUSED OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT

“They never asked me for my side of the story,” he told the outlet. “They never asked for evidence or how I felt.”

Jacob Hoyle of Team United States, left, and Curtis McDowald of Team United States react to their loss to Team Japan in Men's Épée Team Table of 16 on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Makuhari Messe Hall on July 30, 2021 in Chiba, Japan. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Jacob Hoyle of Team United States, left, and Curtis McDowald of Team United States react to their loss to Team Japan in Men’s Épée Team Table of 16 on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Makuhari Messe Hall on July 30, 2021 in Chiba, Japan. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Hadzic was suspended back in early June after three women came forward to allege separate incidents of sexual misconduct that were said to have taken place between 2013 and 2015, USA Today reported, citing a complaint. 

His suspension was overturned and he was able to join Team USA as an alternate but under significant restrictions, including having him travel to Tokyo alone and staying in a separate hotel after being banned from the Olympic village. 

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His appearance at the Games was met with major backlash and on Friday his teammate appeared to make a statement. 

Hadzic told USA Today that it was McDowald that handed his team the masks, making him the sole fencer to wear a black mask.

“I just remember thinking it would be kind of silly if I stood out there with a black mask and I asked them if they had an extra (pink) one, and they go, ‘Oh, no,'”

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Hadzic said he hadn’t realized what was happening until after when he received a photo. 

“I just told (Hoyle) I was frankly embarrassed to be his teammate,” he said. “I was embarrassed to stand up there with him,” adding that he “chewed” Ramirez out.

“I told him it wasn’t cool.” 

The American’s fell 45-39 to Japan in the men’s épée event. Hadzic did not compete as an alternate. He has repeatedly denied all allegations.

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