Ukraine has banned top Russian boxer Georgy Kushitashvili from entering the country for the EUBC European Boxing Championships over a visit to Crimea, Ukraine's border guards stated on Wednesday.
"Part of the (Russian) delegation -- nine persons out of a total of 39 -- was barred from entering Ukraine," border guards spokesman Oleg Slobodyan told AFP by phone.
"The decision was taken because these nine persons from the Russian Federation have illegally visited Crimea," he added.
Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and Kiev has imposed travel bans on dozens of Russian politicians and celebrities who have visited since then.
Kushitashvili was on his way to the European championships that are due to start in Kharkiv on Friday. He was the red-hot favourite to win in the 81kg category.
Russia's boxing federation spokeswoman Vlada Romanova told AFP that Ukrainian officers halted her at a check-point at Kharkiv railway station along with Kushitashvili and they were deported back to Russia.
"The border guards and the customs officers examined our documents and luggage for hours without any explanation," Romanova said.
"Later they told us that we would all be deported as we have violated Ukraine's laws with our unauthorised visits to Crimea -- Ukraine's annexed territory."
The European championships in Ukraine's second largest city are also a qualifying tournament for the world championships, which will take place in Hamburg, Germany, from August 25.
Russian boxing federation secretary-general Umar Kremlev told the press that Muslim Gadzhimagomedov will substitute for Kushitashvili at the European championships.
"We're putting Gadzhimagomedov on our team's roster urgently," R-Sport agency quoted Kremlev as saying. "He will fly to Kharkiv to replace Kushitashvili."