Russian Fencing Federation President Ilgar Mammadov has admitted that all of Russia’s leading fencers are in law enforcement agencies ©Getty Images

Russian Fencing Federation President Ilgar Mammadov has conceded that there is "no chance" athletes from his country will be able to compete at next year’s Olympics in Paris under conditions of neutrality after admitting that all of the country's leading fencers are in law enforcement agencies.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recommended that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be allowed to return to the global sporting stage as long as they do not support the invasion of Ukraine or are affiliated to the military or national security agencies.

"With such conditions, there is no chance," Mammadov told Russia’s official state news agency TASS when asked about competing at Paris 2024 under the IOC’s conditions.

"You have to sell your soul to the devil and go to Paris or remain a normal person."

Mammadov said in a separate report by TASS that many of his athletes were in law enforcement agencies.

"We have all the leading athletes from CSKA [Moscow] or Dynamo [Moscow]," said Mammadov.

"We have such a system, like the Italians, Hungarians, Germans, Chinese, Poles, Ukrainians - we are all in this system to participate in the Military World Games.

"Therefore, everyone very simply, they [the IOC] knew this very well and knew where to hit.

"They made such a false attack, as if they wanted to return us."

USA Fencing has called for all athletes with ties to the Russian and Belarusian military to be banned ©USA Fencing
USA Fencing has called for all athletes with ties to the Russian and Belarusian military to be banned ©USA Fencing

Last month, the International Fencing Federation (FIE) staged its Extraordinary Congress where members voted in favour of allowing Russian and Belarusian fencers to return to international competition under a neutral banner.

USA Fencing has compiled a list of athletes that it claims are involved in the Russian and Belarusian military from data provided by the FIE’s records.

Among those include Russian Olympic champions Yana Egorian, Sofia Lokhanova, Adelina Zagidullina, Olga Nikitina and Sofya Velikaya.

Olympic medallists Anton Borodachev, Kirill Borodachev and Pavel Sukhov are also on the list along with fellow Russian fencers Kamil Ibragimov, Alexandra Sunduchkova, Anastasiia Ivanova, Inna Gracheva. Kristina Samsonova and Tatiana Gudkova.

USA Fencing has urged for these athletes to be barred from fencing events, as well as reinforcing its calls for the FIE to reimpose sanctions against Russian and Belarusian fencers.

"We look forward to the response of the FIE to the IOC’s recommendations and continue to advocate that an outright ban while the war in ongoing is the correct outcome with the IOC recommendations an absolute minimum standard, specifically request that the FIE exclude these military athletes, inclusive of those who we may not have been able to give information about," Phil Andrews, chief executive and general secretary of USA Fencing, wrote in the letter.

The FIE’s decision to lift its ban on fencers from Russia and Belarus has received a backslash, with several countries cancelling events.

France, Finland, Germany and Sweden have all called off staging tournaments since the controversial verdict at the FIE Extraordinary Congress.

The Polish Fencing Federation announced yesterday that any Russian or Belarusian athlete looking to participate in the Women’s Foil World Cup, due to be held from April 21 and 23 in Poznań, must sign a statement condemning the war in Ukraine.

Olympic gold medallist and double world champion Adelina Zagidullina is among the Russian fencers that are
Olympic gold medallist and double world champion Adelina Zagidullina is among the Russian fencers that are "known as military athletes", according to USA Fencing ©Getty Images

Mammadov has criticised the response of national governing bodies and questioned the role of International Federations following the fallout.

"The musketeers got scared, so the French decided to take part in the Olympics without us," said Mammadov.

"If you watch fencing, the French won the overall fencing standings for the first time last season without us, and they lost all the time.

"They don't want us to come to Paris [2024] and took the medals.

"Here, in addition to political issues, there is also the issue of competition.

"In this matter, the IOC showed that International Federations are simply nobody and nothing.

"What is an International Federation?

"There is a charter, there is a supreme governing body - this is Congress.

"The Congress decides on admission.

"The IOC again gives some of its recommendations.

"Why in tennis can compete, but fencers can't, when the congress voted?

"The IOC simply restricts our rights as athletes, as people."