Over the past week, many articles came out about Team USA fencer Alen Hadzic. If you haven’t heard yet, here’s the long and short of it. It’s really quite simple:
Alen Hadzic has a well-known reputation leading back to his days at Columbia University as a known sexual predator. So much so that he was forced to fly to Tokyo separately from other athletes and is banned from even staying in the Olympic Village after many of his teammates sent a letter “vehemently opposing” him staying in close quarters with them. He is staying in a hotel for the physical and emotional safety of other athletes. If the weight of that last sentence doesn’t hit you, you are part of the problem.
In the most obvious statement ever, Hadzic told USA Today that the allegations against him are “frankly, untruths.” I “frankly” don’t care.
Safesport previously suspended Hadzic from the international competition, which Hadzic later fought to get lifted because he’s a white man with an exceptional lawyer – a story we’ve heard time and time again. USA Fencing came up with a “safety plan” in order to allow Hadzic to compete in this year’s Olympic Games, potentially as early as this Friday. “But he earned his spot on the Olympic team and deserves his shot just like everyone else!” You mean, just like Sha’Carri Richardson did? Just like all of his victims & teammates who are forced to compete alongside him in Tokyo? Right.
So, let’s talk about how this is an unsurprising reminder of how little the world cares about women, women athletes, and victims of abuse.
Fastest woman on Earth Sha’Carri Richardson was villianized for smoking weed (legal in the state she was in) and banned from competing in Tokyo. Greatest gymnast of all time Simone Biles is being criticized for being “too soft” as she very bravely stepped back from the games due to mental health reasons because society doesn’t allow black women to be vulnerable or human. Yet this white man is being protected and elevated time and time again even despite years worth of sexual misconduct allegations against him. Richardson and Biles are only 2 examples among many of the disrespect towards women and black women athletes in this year’s Olympic Games. It’s messy and disappointing.
To USA Fencing, Safesport and the Olympic Committee: shame on you for allowing this to happen. Safesport is the organization put in place after monster Larry Nassar was exposed for sexually abusing young women for decades, and they are failing women athletes yet again. But as long as we have a “safety plan” in place, it’s okay right? Nope. That is just a bullshit loophole that protects people like Alen Hadzic and hurts women.
So what can we do about it? Well, this is bigger than you and I so, nothing on a large scale. The most we can do is make sure this story doesn’t get buried because that just allows Hadzic and men like him to get away with this behavior until the end of time.