Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak has been banned for a year for displaying a symbol in his uniform in support of the Ukraine invasion.
Kuliak taped the “Z” sign – which was seen on Russian tanks and military vehicles in Ukraine and was embraced by supporters of the war – in his vest for a medal ceremony at a World Cup event in March.
In addition to the ban, Kuliak must return the bronze medal he won in the parallel bar, according to the International Gymnastics Federation.
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The 20-year-old Kuliak stood beside the Ukrainian gold medalist on the Doha stage in Qatar.
The Federation’s disciplinary commission said in a ruling that “if the protective measures to prevent Russian athletes from competing are still in force on May 17, 2023, the ban will continue and will expire six months after the removal of the said measures.”
The commission found that Kuliak violated the Federation’s discipline, ethics, code of conduct, and technical regulations “when he wore the letter ‘Z’ in his single during competitions and awards ceremonies.”
Kuliak, a former national junior all-round champion who did not compete in the Tokyo Olympics, can apply within 21 days.
The panel said no violations had been established against Russian delegation leader Valentina Rodionenko and coach Igor Kalabushkin.
Dmitry Subishev, chairman of Russia’s State Duma Sports Committee, told the country’s official news agency: “I am surprised that several letters of the Latin alphabet were included in the banned list of the International Federation and the organizers of the tournament in Doha.” TASS.
“When I looked at the regulations, I did not see that they were included in the list of prohibited symptoms, which could cause a person to fall under the prohibition.
“I personally do not see any signs of aggression, discrimination, nationalism in Culiac’s work, as the whole civilized world does not see.
“But, unfortunately, the federation cannot cope with the pressure of politicians, big business tycoons, law enforcement or sports lawlessness.”
At the time, Kuliak said he would not change his actions if he had time again.
“If I have a second chance and I have to choose whether or not to come out with the letter ‘Z’ on my chest, I will do exactly the same thing,” Kuliak said.
“I have seen it with our army and we have seen what this symbol means. It has become.” [it means]”For victory” and “for peace.”
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