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Wednesday, May 18, 2022 – A Russian gymnast who taped a ‘Z’ war symbol to his chest while sharing the podium with his Ukrainian rival has been banned from competing for a year.
Ivan Kuliak, 20, wore the symbol in support of Putin’s war on Ukraine while receiving a bronze medal in the parallel bars at a gymnastics world cup event in Qatar back in March.
He was standing just a few feet away from Ukrainian athlete Ivan Kuliak, who won gold.
The International Gymnastics Federation has now ruled that Kuliak breached multiple codes by wearing the symbol, and will be banned from competing for at least a year. The ban will last until May 2023.
Kuliak has also been disqualified from the World Cup, must return his bronze medal, and must repay his prize money of around £400.
He must also pay costs for the investigation, which amount to £1,600.
Valentina Rodionenko, the head of the Russian World Cup delegation, and Igor Kalabushkin, the coach, were not found to have breached the rules, and charges against them were dropped.
Days after Kuliak caused the fury, the gymnast said he had no regrets and would do the same again.
He told Russia Today: ‘If there was a second chance and I had a choice whether to go out with the letter “Z” on my chest or not, I would do the same.
‘I saw it on our military and looked at what this symbol means. It turned out to be “for victory” and “for peace”. I just wanted to show my position.
‘As an athlete, I will always fight for victory and play for peace.’