US fencers wear pink masks after teammate accused of sexual misconduct | Fencing

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Three members of the United States Olympic men’s épée team wore pink masks on Friday amid allegations their teammate is guilty of sexual misconduct.

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.

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.

In the wake of the allegations, the US Center for SafeSport suspended the 29-year-old from all fencing activities on 2 June. Hadzic appealed that suspension and won. The arbitrator ruled Hadzic should not contact his accusers while saying his suspension had been “inappropriate to the allegations”. However, he travelled to Tokyo separately from his teammates and had to stay in a hotel away from the athletes’ village.

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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