Russian boxers like Dmitry Bivol, left, are back in the World Boxing Association rankings ©Getty Images

The Russian-led International Boxing Association (IBA) has welcomed a decision by the World Boxing Association (WBA) to reinstate professionals from Russia and Belarus to its rankings.

They had been removed from the lists because of the ongoing war in Ukraine, but the WBA has now performed a U-turn.

The IBA, in a stance which makes it an outlier every other International Federation overseeing an Olympic sport, is allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete under their national flags.

It also signed an agreement with the WBA last month to collaborate on creating single regulations for amateur and professional boxing.

"Sport should exist outside of politics - this is the principle that we adhere to in IBA," said IBA President Umar Kremlev.

"After our personal meeting with President [Gilberto] Mendoza, we came to a common opinion on this matter. 

"I am glad that WBA leadership shares this principle and welcome today’s decision to restore Russian and Belarusian athletes in the WBA ratings."

Russian and Belarusian boxers have still been able to fight for WBA belts while they were removed from the rankings.

Notably Dmitry Bivol, who is Russian, has twice defended his light-heavyweight world title since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in February, defeating Mexicans Saul "Canelo" Álvarez and Gilberto Ramírez.

The IBA and WBA Presidents signed a cooperation agreement last month ©IBA
The IBA and WBA Presidents signed a cooperation agreement last month ©IBA

The IBA in October lifted a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes participating at its events, and declared they may compete under their national flags and hear the national anthem should they win a gold medal.

This goes against an International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommendation that athletes from the two countries be banned from international sport.

The IOC is exploring a proposal for Russians and Belarusians to take part in Asian qualifying events for Paris 2024, but is insisting national symbols would remain banned.

Kremlev is an outspoken critic of sanctions on Russian athletes, claiming they go "against the principles" of the Olympic Movement and that "sports are out of politics".

It is the latest faultline between the IBA and IOC, which suspended is recognition of the IBA in 2019.

An IOC Boxing Task Force oversaw the sport at Tokyo 2020 and is due to do the same again at Paris 2024.

Boxing has been left off the provisional programme for Los Angeles 2028.

Financial transparency is one of the IOC's areas of concern when it comes to the IBA, including its reliance on sponsorship from Russian state-owned oil and gas giant Gazprom.

At least 6,755 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Russia began the full-scale invasion on February 24, according to the United Nations, but it estimates the true death toll is considerably higher.