Alen Hadzic, the U.S. Olympic fencer who participated in the Tokyo Games despite being under investigation for sexual misconduct, is being blocked from entering events by USA Fencing.
The organization has denied Hadzic’s request to enter him in an upcoming competition and will continue to do so "for the foreseeable future,’’ according to USA Fencing.
“USA Fencing reserves discretion as to which athletes it will register into competitions,’’ the organization said Wednesday in a statement provided to USA TODAY Sports. “The organization must be mindful of many factors, including how registration of individuals reflects on USA Fencing, its values and the interests of other athletes. USA Fencing does not intend to enter Mr. Hadzic in any competitions for the foreseeable future except to the extent it is legally compelled to do so.’’
Hadzic's attorney, Michael Palma, said he will fight to protect the fencer's right to participate.
"It’s troubling that an organization like US Fencing is willing to openly take a side against an athlete it is obligated to protect simply because the mob scares them into it,'' Palma said by text message. "You don’t get truth with that, you can’t have justice with a witch trial - you get anarchy.''
Last month, with fallout lingering over Hadzic’s participation in the Olympics, USA Fencing’s CEO, general counsel and communications director resigned.
On Oct. 14, Kate Reisinger, Director of Sports Performance for USA Fencing, informed Hadzic by email that USA Fencing would not be entering him in the upcoming European Fencing Confederation event in Colmar, France. But Hadzic's attorney said USA Fencing gave no explanation for its decision before providing USA TODAY Sports with a statement.
At the Olympics, three of Hadzic’s teammates wore pink face masks to protest the presence of Hadzic, who was wearing a black mask during the team photo.
USA Fencing allowed Hadzic to participate in Tokyo after an arbitrator lifted a temporary suspension imposed by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which continues to investigate the allegations of sexual misconduct. Before the Olympics, three women reported the allegations of sexual misconduct by Hadzic to SafeSport, an independent nonprofit that investigates allegations of abuse committed against Olympic and amateur athletes.
The incidents allegedly took place between 2013 and 2015. SafeSport has continued its investigation, according to Hadzic’s attorney.
SafeSport spokesman Dan Hill said, "The Center does not comment on matters to protect the integrity of its investigative process.''
USA Fencing drew criticism for Hadzic's participation even though it imposed a “safety plan’’ that prevented Hadzic from staying in the Olympic village with the other fencers.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Alen Hadzic blocked from entering events by USA Fencing