The U.S. Men's Fencing Team Wore Pink Face Masks To Protest Their Own Teammate


NPR 31 July, 2021 - 03:24am 44 views

The American fencing team is not happy to have Alen Hadzic representing the U.S. at the Tokyo Olympics.

Almost immediately after making it on to the roster, the 29-year-old was accused of sexual misconduct between 2013 and 2015 by three women.

Hadzic denies the allegations and successfully appealed a suspension that would have kept him off the U.S. team.

On Friday, the men's team conveyed their displeasure to the world, wearing pink face masks in support of sexual assault victims. It made for a striking image as Jake Hoyle, Curtis McDowald and Yeisser Ramirez appeared in the light-colored masks, while Hadzic was the odd-man-out in black.

Jackie Dubrovich, an Olympic fencer who was in Tokyo, called the move by her teammates "PERFORMATIVE ACTIVISM" on Instagram. She called for accountability.


Hadzic had been suspended from all fencing activities by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, an independent agency that investigates sexual abuse in Olympic sports. But weeks later, an arbitrator ruled that the suspension was "inappropriate to the allegations," The New York Times reported.

It was also decided that Hadzic's addition to Team USA would not be "detrimental to the reputation of the United States or his sport."

The decision enraged his teammates who called into question the efficacy of SafeSport, tasked with protecting the athletes.

In an email obtained by USA Today, Kris Ekeren, CEO of USA Fencing, wrote to Hadzic, saying his teammates had the opposite feeling.

"Nevertheless, 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," Ekeren wrote.

"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."

The fencer was prohibited from staying in the Olympic village. Instead, he's been staying at a hotel nearby. He also was forced to travel to Tokyo separately from his teammates and forbidden from practicing with female teammates.

Hadzic's lawyer, Michael Palma, says USA Fencing is keeping the Olympian out of sight to avoid negative publicity. The result, Palma told The New York Times, is keeping him "from participating in the Olympic experience that he has rightfully earned."

In the end, Hadzic, an alternate on the team, did not compete in the Games. The U.S. men's epee team lost to Japan on Friday and finished ninth.

Read full article at NPR

U.S. Fencers Wear Pink Masks at Tokyo Olympics After Teammate Is Accused of Sexual Assault

PEOPLE 30 July, 2021 - 07:02pm

Jake Hoyle, Curtis McDowald and Yeisser Ramirez all wore pink face masks before the start of the men's épée event, Yahoo Sports reported.

U.S. fencer Alen Hadzic, 29, did not, instead wearing a black mask.

The athlete, who joined the team in Japan as an alternate, was accused of sexual misconduct in separate incidents between 2013 and 2015, according to the New York Times. He denied all claims.

Concerning the allegations, Hadzic was briefly suspended from participating in the sport in early June by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, the outlet said. He joined the team in Tokyo as an alternate after an arbitrator reviewed the case.

USA Fencing did not immediately respond to comment regarding the display of pink face masks when reached by PEOPLE.

Hadzic's attorney, Michael Palma of Florida, says his client refutes the accusations against him.

"100 percent," Palma tells PEOPLE, "all of the allegations, he completely denies."

Team USA lost to Japan on Friday, 45-39, finishing in ninth place. Hadzic did not participate, but his inclusion on the team sparked controversy. One anonymous accuser spoke out against him in an interview with USA Today after the decision to suspend him was reversed.

"I think one case is enough for you to not be allowed to compete at the f---ing Olympics," the accuser told the outlet. "It really makes you question how far someone needs to go in order for them not to be able to compete.''

Hadzic has largely been separated from the team while in Japan due to restrictions placed on him by USA Fencing.

Palma tells PEOPLE Hadzic flew to the country two days after his teammates.

In an interview with USA Today, Hadzic — a New Jersey native — told USA Today he was initially welcomed by some of his fellow fencers and coaches upon his arrival.

"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 told 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."

Jack Weiner — an attorney for one of the accusers who did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment — questioned Hadzic's involvement before the start of the Games.

"I think of the possibility that this man accused of sexual assault by three women, credibly in the eyes of investigators, will stand atop the Olympic podium, wrapped in an American flag," he recently told the Times. "And I ask: How can this be happening in 2021? Have we learned nothing these past few years?"

US men's fencing team wear pink masks in apparent protest of teammate accused of sexual misconduct

Fox News 30 July, 2021 - 03:48pm

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The suspension was overturned allowing Hadzic to appear on the Olympic team as an alternate but USA Fencing implemented several restrictions, including having him travel to Tokyo alone and staying in a separate hotel after being banned from the Olympic village, the report continued. 

One of the complaints was filed by women who competed on the Columbia University fencing team when Hadzic attended in 2013. According to the report, he was suspended for a year following a Title IV investigation. Another complaint accuses Hadzic of groping a woman in 2015. 

Hadzic has repeatedly denied these claims, telling USA Today: "They’re just frankly not true." 

The American’s fell 45-39 to Japan in the men’s épée event. Hadzic did not compete as an alternate. 

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US Olympic Fencers Wore Pink Masks To Protest Against Their Teammate Accused Of Sexual Assault

BuzzFeed News 30 July, 2021 - 12:30pm

Three men on the US épée team took a stand against their teammate Alen Hadzic's inclusion in the Olympics despite sexual assault allegations against him.

By Tasneem Nashrulla and Brianna Sacks

Last updated on July 30, 2021, at 3:56 p.m. ET

Posted on July 30, 2021, at 1:30 p.m. ET

Three fencers on the men's US Olympic team were wearing pink masks when they arrived Friday in Tokyo for their opening match against Japan.

But the coordinated masks weren't a coincidence; they were a planned protest by the trio against a teammate who is accused of sexual assault, sources close to the team told BuzzFeed News.

Photos shared on social media showed three of the four athletes on the men's épée team — Jake Hoyle, Curtis McDowald, and Yeisser Ramirez — wearing pink masks, while teammate Alen Hadzic — who is under investigation for sexual assault — wore a black one.

"The disdain was clear," one source told BuzzFeed News.

"They decided to make a statement that they were not standing for him being there," said another fencing athlete not competing in the Tokyo Olympics. "They wanted to make a distinction between themselves that they didn't stand for sexual assault or abuse against women. These athletes wanted to have a voice where US Fencing and SafeSport failed."

An update from Tokyo: #TeamUSA men's epee team deliberately wore pink masks for their opening match to stand in solidarity w/ sexual assault survivors and against their teammate, Alen Hadzic, who is under investigation for sexual assault "The disdain was clear," a source said

His inclusion prompted six women fencers, including two Olympic athletes, to urge the International Olympic Committee not to allow him to represent the US; his presence, they said, was a “direct affront” to fellow athletes and put them at risk.

“We are gravely concerned about the impact Mr. Hadzic’s potential presence will have on other Team USA athletes,” the women wrote on May 20.

While the US Center for SafeSport, the nonprofit agency responsible for protecting athletes from abuse, suspended Hadzic from the Olympics last month due to the investigation, he fought to get his prohibition lifted through an arbitration process.

USA Fencing created a "safety plan" to keep Hadzic away from women and out of the Olympic Village, which included him traveling and staying separately from his teammates.

He was also forbidden from practicing with women teammates.

But the stunt earned praise from US fencer and 2016 Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad.

"Kudos to the team for taking a stand," she tweeted on Friday.

#TeamUSA men’s epee team wore pink masks for their opening match at the Olympics as a show of support for sexual assault victims. Alen Hadzic— their teammate accused of rape and sexual assault— is on the left. Kudos to the team for taking a stand. #BelieveWomen

While Hadzic did not participate on Friday, the team lost to Japan and came in ninth.

Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.

Brianna Sacks is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Brianna Sacks at

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.

US fencers wear pink masks after teammate accused of sexual misconduct

The Guardian 30 July, 2021 - 09:41am

Jake Hoyle, Curtis McDowald and Yeisser Ramirez all wore pink facemasks before the start of the competition. Alex Hadzic, who has been accused of sexual assault, was the only member of the team who did not.

clearer pictures of the three Tean USA men's épée Olympians wearing pink masks as a show of support for women in fencing

Hadzic qualified for the Tokyo Games in May. Shortly afterwards, 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 was innocent of all allegations. He did confirm that Hadzic was suspended from Columbia University for the 2013-14 school year after an investigation involving sexual consent.

While Hoyle, McDowald and Ramirez’s facemasks were an apparent rebuke of Hadzic they did not comment verbally on the matter on Friday. One of Hadzic’s teammates, Katharine Holmes, says she collected electronic signatures from every member of the fencing team objecting to Hadzic’s inclusion at the Olympics. Palma has distributed a letter of objection from Holmes, which includes only her written signature.

Hadzic was an alternate on the US team and did not compete. The US men’s épée team lost to Japan on Friday, ending their Olympic campaign.

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