Russian Gymnast Investigated for Appearing to Wear Pro-War Symbol on Podium Next to Ukrainian

Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak is under investigation after appearing to wear a national war symbol on his leotard while standing on the podium next to a Ukrainian rival in Qatar on March 6.

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) said that it will ask the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation to open disciplinary proceedings against Kuliak for his “shocking behavior” at the Apparatus World Cup in Doha.

Kuliak, who won bronze in the parallel bars final, taped a letter “Z” across the front of his shirt — in place of the Russian flag, which FIG banned  — when he stood next to Ukrainian gold medal winner Illia Kovtun of Ukraine.

The letter “Z” has been seen painted on Russian tanks and military vehicles taking part in the invasion of Ukraine. It has also been worn by pro-war politicians in Russia and reportedly mean “victory.”

The weekend gymnastics event was the last opportunity for Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials to participate after FIG suspended them in response to the invasion.

The suspensions “constitute preventive measures aiming at preserving the integrity of Gymnastics, the safety and integrity of members and all athletes and participants, and at fighting against all forms of violence and of sports injustice,” FIG said.

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