Russian gymnast faces ban after wearing pro-war symbol next to Ukrainian athlete

Dylan Bettencourt

Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak has come under investigation after wearing a pro-war symbol on his leotard as he stood on the podium next to an athlete from the Ukraine.

After winning the bronze medal on Saturday at the Apparatus World Cup in Qatar

Kuliak taped the letter ‘Z’ to his chest when he took to the podium alongside gold medal winner Illia Kovtun from the Ukraine.

The letter Z has become a symbol of war linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The symbol has been seen painted on several tanks and military vehicles.

Pro-war politicians have also displayed the symbol since the invasion began on 24 February.

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) confirmed that an investigation into the incident had begun, labelling the actions of the Russian athlete as “shocking”.

“The FIG confirms that it will ask the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation to open disciplinary proceedings against Ivan Kuliak following his shocking behaviour at the Apparatus World Cup in Doha, Qatar,” the ruling body said in a statement.

The competition in Doha was the final chance for athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete after their countries received sanctions from FIG.

The federation said it took account of the recommendation set out by the International Olympic Committee that athletes from the region should be barred from competing due to the military operations in Ukraine.

The sporting world has taken a joint stand against the invasion of Ukraine by suspending any Russian involvement in an attempt to exclude the nation from global affairs.

Image source: @FanPage

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