By TALIA WIENER
Montclair High School graduate Alen Hadzic has been cleared to compete as a replacement athlete on the U.S. Olympic men’s fencing team while an investigation into allegations of misconduct continues.
The U.S. Center for Safesport — which investigates claims of sexual misconduct and other abuse — on Monday lifted a temporary suspension that would have barred Hadzic from competing on the epee team. The suspension had first been put in place June 2.
“Temporary measures are used by SafeSport while an investigation is ongoing and are not an indication of what the ending the investigation will ultimately uncover,” a SafeSport spokesperson said.
An investigation into allegations of misconduct is ongoing, according to Hadzic’s lawyer, Russell Prince, as well as a USA Fencing announcement sent to members of the fencing community and shared with Montclair Local.
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“The judge threw out his suspension as being inappropriate during the pendency of the investigation,” Prince said. “The judge simply thought the center did not have a basis for a suspension.”
A listing in SafeSport’s Centralized Disciplinary Database indicated the June 2 suspension but did not describe the nature of the allegations of misconduct. The listing has since been removed from the public database.
“There are certain types of temporary measures that are not in the database,” the SafeSport spokesperson said. “The center has a number of tools at its disposal that give it the flexibility to handle matters while it does its investigation.
Hadzic confirmed to Montclair Local he was cleared to compete in Tokyo, but declined to comment further.
The U.S. Center for SafeSport, created in 2017, is federally authorized under the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017, according to its website. The Center is entrusted “as the exclusive authority to respond to reports of allegations of sexual abuse and sexual misconduct within the United States Olympic and Paralympic Commitee and their recognized National Governing Bodies,” the website says. It also develops resources and policies to safeguard athletes from bullying, harassment, hazing, physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and sexual misconduct, according to the site.
Media representatives for Team USA have not responded to multiple phone messages.
Hadzic qualified as the replacement athlete for the 2021 men’s epee Olympic team when he placed first in the men’s epee competition at the North American Cup in May. As a replacement athlete, Hadzic trains with the team and travels to the Olympics — but he would not compete unless a competing team member suffers an injury or is unable to compete for another reason. The men’s individual and team epee events are scheduled for the final week of July.