Ilgar Mammadov claimed there was "no time" for Russian athletes to participate at FIE events in Istanbul or Shanghai ©Getty Images

Russian athletes are absent from two ongoing International Fencing Federation (FIE) events, and the Belarusian Fencing Federation (BRFF) has written to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) criticising conditions required for the return of its athletes.

The FIE moved in March to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to return to its competitions, even before the IOC lifted a recommended outright ban.

However, this decision has proved divisive in the sport.

Several events in Europe have been cancelled following the decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals, and more than 300 fencers have urged the IOC and FIE to reconsider their positions.

The IOC's updated recommendations at the end of March which advised International Federations not to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes affiliated to the military or supporting the war in Ukraine to participate have provided a stumbling block to both countries' hopes of a return en masse.

Multiple-time Olympic medallists Sofia Velikaya, Yana Yegoryan and Sofia Pozdniakova, daughter of Russian Olympic Committee President Stanislav Pozdnyakov, are among the Russian athletes ruled out of the World Championships in the Italian city of Milan in July, with the FIE opting to adopt the IOC's recommendations on conditions for their return.

No Russian or Belarusian athletes are competing at the men's épée FIE World Cup in the Turkish city of Istanbul nor the foil Grand Prix in the Chinese city of Shanghai, both of which started today.

Russian Fencing Federation President Ilgar Mammadov claimed to the country's state-run news agency TASS: "There is no time to participate in tournaments." because it had not received entry lists for both events.

insidethegames has asked the FIE and IOC for a comment.

Women's sabre Olympic champion Sofia Pozdniakova is among the Russian fencers blocked from FIE competitions ©Getty Images
Women's sabre Olympic champion Sofia Pozdniakova is among the Russian fencers blocked from FIE competitions ©Getty Images

Maryana Marusenka of Belarus is on the entry list for the women's épée FIE World Cup in Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, starting today.

However, the BRFF has been angered by the criteria for the return of its athletes, and has written to IOC President Thomas Bach - himself an Olympic fencing gold medallist with West Germany at Montreal 1976 - entry for more of its fencers to FIE competitions.

"On behalf of the Fencing Federation of Belarus, we would like to declare the unacceptable decisions of the Commission of the International Fencing Federation," it wrote, as reported by TASS.

"The Commission for determining neutral athletes who are allowed to participate in FIE competitions sent the final lists of athletes and coaches on May 16.

"Of the 103 people on the list submitted by the Federation, only 48 were approved.

"Even children born in 2010 and in high school were excluded from the list.

"The organisation does not agree with the decision of the Commission.

"Such decisions violate social human rights, since children, due to their age, cannot be involved in military organisations or national security organisations.

"We declare that the Commission violated the recommendations of the International Olympic Committee.

"The Fencing Federation of Belarus demands a revision of the list admitted athletes."

The Belarusian Fencing Federation has claimed the exclusion of some of its athletes by the FIE violates
The Belarusian Fencing Federation has claimed the exclusion of some of its athletes by the FIE violates "social human rights" ©Getty Images

There has been a mixed response to the IOC's updated recommendations on Russia and Belarus, which it claims represents a "middle ground".

Critics argue Russian and Belarusian athletes would be used for political purposes by both nations and there should be no place for either country in international sport while the war in Ukraine is ongoing, but opponents in both countries have claimed the conditions laid out by the IOC are "discriminatory".

Ukraine's Government has declared athletes from the country would boycott any qualification events for the Paris 2024 Olympics where Russians and Belarusians are present.

As well as the FIE, International Federations for archery, canoeing, cycling, golf, judo, modern pentathlon, shooting, skateboarding, table tennis, taekwondo, triathlon and wrestling have all permitted a return for Russian and Belarusian athletes under the IOC's conditions.

Athletics, badminton, equestrian, sport climbing and surfing have refused to ease their restrictions.