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Russian Gymnast Who Wore 'Z' Symbol Banned For Year And Ordered To Return Medal

Russian Gymnast Who Wore 'Z' Symbol Banned For Year And Ordered To Return Medal

Ivan Kuliak wore the symbol at the Gymnastics World Cup just days after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine

The Russian gymnast who caused controversy by wearing a 'Z' symbol at the Gymnastics World Cup has been banned for one year and ordered to return his medal.

Ivan Kuliak was seen sporting the symbol while receiving his bronze medal on the podium in Doha in early March, just days after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.

The insignia has been seen branded on a number of Russian military tanks and vehicles and has in turn become a symbol of support for the invasion, though in an interview after the stunt Kuliak made clear he had no regrets about wearing the Z.

The Z symbol has become synonymous with support for the invasion.

"If there was a second chance and I would again have to choose whether to go out with the letter 'Z' on my chest or not, I would do exactly the same," he was quoted as saying by Russia Today. ​

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) launched an investigation into the matter and determined this week that Kuliak violated rules by wearing the symbol.

He has been banned from FIG-sanctioned events until at least May 2023 as a result of his decision, as well as being ordered to return his bronze model and prize money of 500 Swiss francs (£403). Kuliak will also have to contribute to the costs of the proceedings by paying 2,000 Swiss francs (£1,612).

In a statement announcing the ruling, the FIG said: "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.

"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.”

All Russian gymnasts and officials have been banned from international events until further notice, the FIG announced previously, in keeping with global sporting sanctions against the country.

Kuliak claimed after his event that he looked up what the symbol meant and found it represented 'victory' and 'peace', saying: "I just wanted to show my position. As an athlete, I will always fight for victory and play for peace.”

The federation confirmed that Valentina Rodionenko, the head of the Russian delegation, and coach Igor Kalabushkin were not found to have violated FIG rules.

Kuliak has the right to appeal the FIG's decision within 21 days.

If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information 

Featured Image Credit: Sky News/Eurosport

Topics: Russia, Ukraine, Sport, World News