Two Russian clubs have won their appeal to be reinstated to the ETTU men's Champions League ©Getty Images

Russia has claimed a partial victory against sporting sanctions being applied to the country after table tennis clubs were reinstated to a key event.

The European Table Tennis Union (ETTU) Board of Appeal ruled in favour of the Russian Table Tennis Union, Fakel-Gazprom Orenburf and TTSC UMMC Yekaterinburg, and has brought back the two clubs into this season's men's ETTU Champions League.

It was decided that the clubs should not be viewed as representatives of their country and, according to SILA International Lawyers - the law firm which represented the clubs - the ban was recognised as discriminatory.

However, the Board rejected the appeal to overturn the ban on Russian and Belarussian national teams, as well as the barring of their national symbols, flags and anthems at competitions.

Igor Levitin, a Presidential aide of Vladimir Putin, temporarily self-suspended himself from his role as ETTU President at the beginning of March due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Fakel-Gazprom and Yekaterinburg were matched against one another in the semi-finals of this season's Champions League, but were unable to complete the second leg of their match on March 4 after the ETTU Executive Board decided to ban their participation the day before.

Borussia Düsseldorf went on to secure the title for the seventh time, without playing the two-legged final, after defeating fellow German side FC Saarbrücken 3-0 and 3-1 in the last four.

Andreas Prius, the coach of Borussia Düsseldorf, confessed that "we don't even know if we can feel champions or not" and the Champions League now seems set to resume.

The ETTU said that it "welcomes" the ruling to uphold the national team ban but admitted its disappointment on the clubs decision.

"While the ETTU has no wish to punish athletes for the decisions of their Governments, the decision to suspend the Russian clubs was taken to protect athlete safety and ensure the integrity of its competitions, in line with the recommendations of the International Olympic Committee and International Table Tennis Federation," a statement from the ETTU read.

"The ETTU Executive Board will meet to discuss the next steps following the decision."

This is not the first time Russia has been successful in overturning sanctions that were enforced following the country's attack on Ukraine.

Last month, the International Luge Federation's (FIL) Court of Arbitration terminated the suspension of Russian athletes, coaches and officials from events.

Ukraine has been devastated by the Russian invasion with millions being forced to leave their homes ©Getty Images
Ukraine has been devastated by the Russian invasion with millions being forced to leave their homes ©Getty Images

Nevertheless, pressure on Russian luge has not withered, with the FIL Executive Board determined to find new legal methods to stop Russian athletes from competing at its competitions.

While the Russian Luge Federation (FSSR) was not expelled from the global governing body at an Extraordinary Congress, it did vote to remove Russian officials from elected positions.

This included FSSR President Natalia Gart, who lost her role on the FIL Executive Board.

Dmitry Svishchev, the chairman of the State Duma Committee on Physical, Culture and Sports, told Russian state news agency TASS they must remain cautious despite claiming the partial table tennis victory.

"We can only welcome the decision of the ETTU appellate body, but there should be restrained optimism, we have already encountered a similar situation in luge," Svishchev said.

"Now we see that ETTU itself has already expressed dissatisfaction with this decision of its own appeal body, it is likely that they can go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"There are experienced people in the management of our national federation who, I am sure, will lead this situation to the end.

"At the same time, it is a pity that the ETTU has kept in force the suspension of our national team.

"But each such decision to remove the suspension from clubs, national teams or individual athletes sets the right precedent.

"I am sure that other International Federations will follow this example."

The war has caused a humanitarian crisis in the European country with the United Nations human rights office reporting on Monday (April 2) that the civilian death toll has reached 3,153, with the true figure likely to be considerably higher.

The United Nations Refugee Agency believes an estimated 12.7 million people have become displaced, with five million refugees crossing to neighbouring countries and 7.7 million displaced in Ukraine.