The Ukrainian Fencing Federation wants the official that disqualified  Olha Kharlan for refusing to shake hands with Russian Anna Smirnova to resign ©Getty Images

Ukrainian Fencing Federation (UFF) President Mikhail Ilyashev has called for the technical delegate at the centre of the handshake controversy to resign over claims that he was influenced by Russia to disqualify Olha Kharlan at the Fencing World Championships.

Kharlan had defeated Russian Anna Smirnova in the individual women’s sabre competition in Milan last month only to be disqualified by the International Fencing Federation for refusing to shake the hand of her opponent, competing as a neutral.

The four-time Olympic medallist received a black card - the most serious penalty in fencing which would have ruled her out of the team competition and resulted in a 60-day ban.

A decision was later taken by the FIE Bureau to lift the penalty following an appeal by the UFF.

The FIE claimed it stood "fully behind the penalty", insisting it was in "complete accordance" with its rules but admitted that the decision to readmit Kharlan was "in keeping with the Olympic spirit".

Although Kharlan has also been assured of a place at Paris 2024 by the International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, the UFF remain angered by the actions of Dieter Lammer, the head of the technical directorate at the World Championships who issued the black card.

A video has emerged on social media which allegedly shows the German official taking a call on the phone of Aleksei Tikhomirov, the coach of Smirnova, before giving it back to him.

Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs, posted the 25-second clip on Twitter, claiming it was "evidence of Russian pressure" to disqualify Kharlan as the phone call allegedly appeared before Lammer brandished the black card.

Ilyashev has also questioned Lammer’s actions before issuing the penalty and called for him to step down.

"On the video we see that Mr Lammer is speaking to someone using the telephone given to him by the coach of Anna Smirnova," Ilyashev told insidethegames.

"He did this on the piste during the development of the situation. In this case he acted in his capacity as head of DT of the competitions, during making his decision on the protest of Anna Smirnova’ team.

"What shall we think?

"Please imagine the situation when the judge in the court room takes the phone from the party’s representative and speaks with someone.

"From this moment such a judge is not reliable and must resign.

"The same applies to Dieter Lammer on our opinion."

Russian neutral Anna Smirnova remained on the piste for 50 minutes after Ukraine's Olha Kharlan refused to shake hands with her ©Getty Images
Russian neutral Anna Smirnova remained on the piste for 50 minutes after Ukraine's Olha Kharlan refused to shake hands with her ©Getty Images

After Kharlan held out her sabre instead of shaking Smirnova’s hand, the Russian fencer launched a protest and remained on the piste for about 50 minutes before her Ukrainian opponent was disqualified.

Kharlan claims that she had received assurances from FIE Interim President Emmanuel Katsiadakis that a touch of the sabre would suffice after her match against Smirnova.

Ilyashev alleged he received an angry response from Lammer when he approached him following the black card ruling.

"I asked Dieter Lammer who decided to give the black card," said Ilyashev.

"He replied that it was he who decided.

"I said that he could not make such a decision, as such a decision should be done by the directorate technique which is a collegial body and should be voted for.

"Then Lammer replied that it was a decision of directorate technique.

"I asked for a protocol with the results of the vote and decision itself, and he started shouting on me, saying whether I suspects him in cheating.

"My reply was that I just need the protocol as we would like to file the protest and challenge the decision.

"He denied in giving any protocol.

"I also asked to suspend the decision for the period of consideration of our protest and he denied."

The FIE has refused to respond to insidethegames about the actions of Lammer in the video.

The Youth and Sports Committee in Ukraine has also this week recommended to Ukrain'es Parliament Verkhovna Rada drafting of a resolution to demand for Smirnova to be banned for life for her "provocative act" which it claims "contradicts the Olympic spirit".

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin told Russia’s official state news agency TASS that the proposal was a "gross violation of the principle of the inadmissibility of interference by state bodies in the activities of independent international public organisations".

"During all competitions, without exception, athletes should have equal rights and, following the rules of International Federations, should not be subjected to aggressive criticism and attempts to use them as a means of political confrontation," said Matytsin.

"Anna Smirnova did an honest deed in the spirit of true sports values, showed respect for the rules and for her opponent, remaining after the end of the fight waiting for a handshake.

"One can only be proud of the behaviour of our fencer. In such a situation, it is unacceptable to call the actions of the Russian athlete provocative and initiate changes in the rules to please discriminatory requirements."