Ukrainian lugers have called for athletes to boycott events until Russia is banned ©Getty Images

The International Luge Federation (FIL) has published an open letter from Ukrainian athletes, which calls for a boycott of events until the Russian Luge Federation and its athletes are banned from the sport.

The Russian Luge Federation (FSSR) succeeded in overturning the FIL's decision to ban Russian lugers on Friday (April 8).

The FIL’s Court of Arbitration, chaired by Ben Heijmeijer, ruled in favour of the FSSR in a decision which has been celebrated in Russia.

The FSSR also retained its membership with FIL after a bid to expel the organisation failed in a vote at the worldwide governing body’s Extraordinary Congress, which was unable to reach the two-thirds majority required.

A motion to remove Russian officials from elected positions was passed.

An open letter has been sent by Ukrainian luge athletes Andriy Mandziy, Anton Dukach, Olena Smaha, Olena Stetskiv, Yulianna Tunystka, Ihor Stakhiv, Andrii Lystetskyy, Ihor Hoi, Rostyslav Levkovyeh, Danyil Martsinovskiy, Vadym Mykyievych and Bohdan Babura.

The letter has been addressed to international luge athletes, urging them to threaten to boycott competitions unless Russia are banned.

"Reach out to your national federations and say that you won’t take part in any FIL competition until FIL decides to ban entire Russian Luge Federation from our sport and forbids its athletes to participate in luge races", reads the letters.

"Make a loud, clear and united statement.

"Present your statement to your national federation and make sure that your federation reaches out to FIL and confirms the decision that its athletes won’t compete alongside Russian team during the war and Russian invasion in Ukraine!"

The FIL published the open letter its official Twitter account.

The organisation yesterday appeared to distance itself from the decision reached by the Court of Arbitration, tweeting: "These are legal decisions by an independent court and free, democratic votings by the member federations. 

"Of course, not everyone likes that, but it is a principle of democracy."

The decision is expected to be contested as Russia's military assault on Ukraine continues.

The killing of civilians in Bucha by Russian armed forces has been described as a genocide by both Ukraine and Poland.

More than 4.3 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the full-scale invasion began on February 24 and the civilian death toll is at least 1,766, although the United Nations says the true figure is far higher.

The Luge World Cup season concluded on January 23 and the 2022-2023 campaign is not due to start until November, so it remains possible the FIL will make fresh efforts to ban Russian competitors.

The open letter from Ukrainian athletes has highlighted concerns over safety at events should Russian athletes be permitted to compete.

The FIL Extraordinary Congress failed to pass a motion expelling the Russian Luge Federation ©FIL
The FIL Extraordinary Congress failed to pass a motion expelling the Russian Luge Federation ©FIL

"Everyday the world is witnessing the horrifying acts of Russian military, the destruction of our cities and homes, missiles thrown on our hospitals, rapes of women and children, massive killings and massacres of our civilians all over Ukraine.

"We admire the sportsmanship in all sliding sports but the current war and situation in Ukraine goes beyond sports and sportsmanship.

"We can’t separate sport and politics when violations on human rights and lives take place.

"Following the events that happened during the FIL Congress on 8th of April, the initiative to ban Russian Luge Federation and its athletes from the FIL and competing on all FIL international competitions was rejected.

"We are alarmed and extremely concerned about the possibility of allowing Russian luge team to compete in FIL international competitions.

"In this potential scenario we are extremely worried about the physical and mental safety of all Ukrainian athletes during international competitions.

"As you all know, there have been a lot of inflammatory posts on social media made by Russian luge and Olympic athletes as well as some Russian coaches that clearly stated their support of the war, the Putin regime and supports and justifies the raping, killing and torturing of innocent people and children of Ukraine.

"How can we possibly imagine that Ukrainian athletes will be safe racing alongside the Russian team?

"How can we be reassured that there won’t be any more serious harassment or worse towards us during luge competitions."

The letter added that some Russian athletes had spoken out against the war.

The athletes criticised the FSSR, which avoided being expelled by the FIL, for its silence over the war.