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Fedor says Russian athletes are being treated like political ‘hostages’ due to international ban

The legendary heavyweight fighter appealed to the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) to allow Russian athletes back into international competitions. 

Bellator Japan - Fedor v Rampage Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images

Fedor Emelianenko believes it is time to allow Russian athletes back into international competition.

The legendary heavyweight fighter and president of the Russian MMA Union recently appealed to the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) to allow Russian athletes to compete in next year’s events. The Russian MMA Union was indefinitely suspended by the IMMAF in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement obtained by Russian state-run agency Tass.ru, Emelianenko noted that Russian athletes were being held “hostage” by the current socio-political climate.

“Until recently, sport was out of politics, and now the situation has developed that talented Russian athletes are hostages of socio-political problems between states,” said Emelianenko. “Hopes, plans and colossal efforts have been reduced to zero, faith in the justice of the main principles of Olympism has been lost.” “We are sure that athletes should compete with worthy opponents, because this is the most important thing for the development of sports. And our team is one of the strongest in the world.

“A whole competitive and constantly developing team has dropped out of the world MMA. We would like to note that this year the Russian national team was formed as part of the national championship and is ready to take part in all international competitions next year,” Emelianenko added.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has resulted in at least 38,000 fatalities and displaced more than 14 million people in less than ten months.