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Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak faces disciplinary action for wearing invasion symbol next to Ukraine rival on podium: "Shocking behavior"

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Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak, who sported an insignia linked to his country's military invasion of Ukraine on a medals podium, is facing disciplinary action for his "shocking" behavior on Sunday, the International Gymnastics Federation said.

Kuliak's shirt had the letter "Z" prominently placed as he stood next to Ukraine's Kovtun Illia, the gold medalist at a Gymnastics World Cup event in Doha.

The "Z" has been seen on Russian tanks and vehicles in Ukraine and has come to symbolize support for the invasion.

Kuliak had won the bronze medal on Saturday.

"The International Gymnastics Federation 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," a statement from the ruling body said.

It had already been decided that from Monday all Russian and Belarusian gymnasts will be banned from future competitions. The International Olympic Committee recommended the ban last week.

"We can confirm that (FIG) has informed us that they will formally be seeking the opening of disciplinary proceedings against male artistic gymnast Ivan Kuliak," the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation said Monday.
The 20-year-old Kuliak was able to compete in Qatar because the exclusion of all gymnasts and officials from Russia and Belarus did not take effect until Monday. The Russian flag was already barred from his uniform by an earlier FIG decision.
Kuliak, a former national junior all-around champion who did not compete at the Tokyo Olympics, now faces a ban under the FIG disciplinary code. The code allows gymnasts to be punished for acts that "behave in an offensive way," "damage the image of gymnastics" or "demonstrate anti-sport behavior." 

The sport's ethics foundation was created in 2018 following the sex abuse scandal involving former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.  

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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