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Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak banned for one year for wearing pro-Ukraine war symbol "Z"

Lausanne, Switzerland — Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak has been given a one-year ban for displaying a symbol on his uniform supporting the invasion of Ukraine.

Kuliak had taped the "Z" symbol - seen on Russian tanks and military vehicles in Ukraine and embraced by supporters of the war - to his vest for a medal ceremony at a World Cup event in March.

Ivan 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, Qatar in March 2022. Twitter

Along with the ban, Kuliak must return the bronze medal he won in parallel bars, the International Gymnastics Federation said.

The 20-year-old Kuliak had stood next to a gold medalist from Ukraine on the podium in Doha, Qatar.

Russian Army military vehicle drives along a street in Armyansk
Servicemen ride on a Russian Army armored vehicle with the letter 'Z' on it after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in eastern Ukraine, in the town of Armyansk, Crimea, on February 24, 2022. STRINGER / REUTERS

"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," the federation's disciplinary commission said in its ruling.

The commission found that Kuliak breached federation statutes of discipline, ethics, code of conduct and technical regulations "when he wore the letter 'Z' on his singlet during the competition and the award ceremony."

Kuliak, a former national junior all-around champion who did not compete at the Tokyo Olympics, can appeal within 21 days.

The panel said no violations were established against Russian delegation leader Valentina Rodionenko and coach Igor Kalabushkin.

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