TOKYO — Alen Hadzic, the U.S. fencer under investigation for sexual misconduct, said he confronted two of his teammates who on Friday wore pink face masks in an apparent protest of Hadzic being allowed to participate in the Olympics.
Hadzic, the alternate on the U.S. men’s epee team, wore a black mask during introductions while his teammates wore the pink masks.
“They never asked me for my side of the story,” Hadzic told USA TODAY Sports. “They never asked for evidence or how I felt.”
Hadzic, 29, was temporarily suspended in June by the U.S. Center for SafeSport after three women told investigators he committed sexual misconduct against them between 2013 and 2015, according to documents obtained by USA TODAY Sports.
An arbitrator overturned the temporary suspension last month, allowing Hadzic to join the U.S. Olympic fencing team. Hadzic has denied the allegations.
On Friday, Hadzic said, he and the three other U.S. men’s epee fencers were waiting to be introduced before their match against Japan when teammate Curtis McDowald handed out masks — a black one for Hadzic and pinks masks for the three other fencers.
“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,’ ” Hadzic said.
Jackie Dubrovich, a member of the U.S. fencing team, wrote on her Instagram story: “Performative activism does not address the issue at hand here. … Female athletes were not protected and our safety was deemed unimportant.”
After the U.S. team lost its match to Japan, Hadzic said, someone sent him a photo of him wearing a black mask and standing alongside his three teammates wearing pink masks.
“It wasn’t really until I saw that picture from the outside view that I realized what was going on,” he said.
Hadzic said he was unable to track down McDowald, but that he confronted his two other epee teammates, Jake Hoyle and Yeisser Ramirez.
“I just told (Hoyle) I was frankly embarrassed to be his teammate,” Hadzic said. “I was embarrassed to stand up there with him.”
Of Ramirez, Hadzic said, “I chewed him out over it. I told him it wasn’t cool.”
The three teammates and USA Fencing did not immediately respond to requests for comment.