A Russian gymnast has provoked outrage after he sported an insignia linked to the invasion of Ukraine on a medals podium stood next to a competitor from the war-torn country.
Ivan Kuliak had the letter ‘Z’ prominently placed on his chest as he received his medal next to Ukraine’s Kovtun Illia, the gold medallist at a Gymnastics World Cup event in Doha.
The letter does not exist in the Cyrillic Russian alphabet and has been seen daubed on Russian tanks and vehicles in Ukraine and has come to symbolise support for the invasion.
Kuliak, a former all-around and floor national junior champion, had won the bronze medal on Saturday.
Responding to the move, the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) said that it will be asking the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation to open disciplinary proceedings against Kuliak following his “shocking behaviour” at the Apparatus World Cup in Qatar.
It had already been decided that from Monday all Russian and Belarusian gymnasts will be banned from future competitions.
“The FIG adopted further measures against Russia and Belarus on 4 March,” FIG said in a statement. “From 7 March 2022, Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials, including judges, are not allowed to take part in FIG competitions or FIG-sanctioned competitions.”
In taking its decision, the FIG said it took in account the latest recommendations from the IOC, the stance of its athletes’ commission and the “deep concerns” and positions expressed by many national gymnastics federations.