Ukraine's Stanislav Horuna has claimed that athlete opposition to Russian participation fell on deaf ears at the WKF ©Getty Images

Ukraine’s Olympic bronze medallist Stanislav Horuna has spoken of his disappointment in World Karate Federation (WKF) for helping to "promote a propaganda of terrorism" by allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete under a neutral banner at the World Championships here.

Horuna is a member of the WKF Athletes’ Commission but claims his supporters' opposition to Russian participation fell on deaf ears as the governing body’s Executive Committee decided to controversially lift the outright ban at the start of this month.

Athletes from Russia and Belarus had been barred from international competition since March last year in response to the war in Ukraine before the WKF agreed to end the suspension in time for the World Championships in Budapest.

WKF officials argue that the move is in line with the International Olympic Committee which has pushed for Russians and Belarusians to compete as neutrals provided they do not support the war and are not affiliated with the military.

However, Horuna claims that the move only serves to promote Russian propaganda while his country remains under attack.

"I think it’s a hypocrisy," Horuna told insidethegames.

"Everybody knows who is who.

"Even if you give them a neutral status, everybody knows that they are from Russia and Belarus so if you let them participate at the international arena you legitimise them.

"Their President was officially recognised as terrorist, so you are promoting a propaganda of terrorism by letting them compete in the international arena.

"Everybody knows that Russia started the war and you let them participate.

"How can you support them…promote their propaganda?

"The international competition is the place where people watch you and you represent something, some values of your country.

"As we know Russia uses sport as an element of propaganda so we need to stop them from doing that.

"I don’t understand World Karate Federation for letting them.

"I can guess the reason."

Horuna said his calls for Russian and Belarusian athletes to remain banned received the support of fellow WKF Athletes’ Commission members.

"I raised the issue and guys supported me but still as an Athletes’ Commission we do not have the power to influence the decision of the World Karate Federation," said the 34-year-old.

"We can just recommend and tell them our feelings.

"They supported me [saying] this is not right."

A total of 12 athletes from Russia and eight from Belarus have been cleared to compete as neutrals in Budapest.

But the Ukrainian Karate Federation claim Russian Ernest Sharafutdinov and Belarusian Aliaksei Furyk have links to the military.

"There is a determination of what is a neutral athlete which is people who do not support the war and that are not connected to the military services," said Horuna.

Ukriane's Anzhelika Terliuga, left, overcame Anna Chernysheva who is one of 12 athletes from Russia competing in Budapest ©ITG
Ukriane's Anzhelika Terliuga, left, overcame Anna Chernysheva who is one of 12 athletes from Russia competing in Budapest ©ITG

"We did an investigation which found two athletes - one guy from Russia serves in the army and the guy from Belarus serves in the National Security Agency.

"How can those people be neutral if they are involved in the military structures?"

A Ukrainian faced a Russian for the first time at this year’s World Championships with Anzhelika Terliuga beating neutral athlete Anna Chernysheva in the third round of the women’s under-55 kilogram category.

"There is definitely extra motivation to beat them," said Horuna.

"I understand that [the Ukrainian athletes] will stay correct but if it was me fighting a Russian I would show them how they respect the rules - and they neglect the rules."

Horuna is an Olympic and world bronze medallist in the men’s under-75kg division but has decided to only compete in the kumite team competition in Budapest.

"I decided to stop competing in the individual category because I have no more goals but I still enjoy karate which is why I am staying in the sport," added Horuna.

"I have won all the most important medals, like at the World Championships, European Championships, European Games, World Games and Olympic Games.

"What is more precious than all these medals is that I have won the hearts of the people.

"I like how people treat me and that makes me full after what I have done over the years.

"I know that young people are motivated by what I have done and that makes me happy."

insidethegames has contacted the WKF for comment.