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Russian gymnast banned for one year for sporting pro-war 'Z' symbol

  • 18 May 2022

Ivan Kuliak, an artistic gymnast, had placed the letter 'Z' on his chest at a World Cup event in Doha in March.

The symbol has been seen daubed on Russian tanks and vehicles in Ukraine and has come to symbolise support for the offensive. ( Reuters Archive )

A Russian gymnast who sported an insignia linked to his country's offensive in Ukraine on a medal podium has been banned for one year, a disciplinary panel said.

A disciplinary commission of the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation (GEF) found that Ivan Kuliak violated rules of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), the sport's ruling body.

"Mr Kuliak is not allowed to participate in any FIG-sanctioned event or competition organised by an affiliated FIG member federation for one year as of the date of this decision," GEF said.

Kuliak's singlet had the letter 'Z' prominently placed as he stood next to Ukraine's Kovtun Illia, the gold medallist at a World Cup event in Doha in March.

The 'Z' has been seen daubed on Russian tanks and vehicles in Ukraine and has come to symbolise support for the attack.

READ MORE: How ‘Z’ became a symbol of Russian pro-war propaganda

Russian and Belarusian gymnasts banned

The 20-year-old artistic gymnast must also return his bronze medal and prize money of $500 (500 Swiss francs).

He has 21 days to appeal against the punishment.

It had already been decided that all Russian and Belarusian gymnasts will be banned from future competitions.

"If the protective measures keeping Russian athletes from competing are still in place on 17 May 2023, the ban shall continue and expire six months after the removal of said measures," GEF said.

READ MORE: Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra gets Eurovision Song Contest trophy

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