Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak is expected to be investigated after displaying a symbol on his uniform supporting the invasion of Ukraine.
Kuliak taped the “Z” symbol — seen on Russian tanks and military vehicles in Ukraine and embraced supporters of the war — to his vest for a medal ceremony at a World Cup event on Saturday in Doha, Qatar. He took bronze in parallel bars and stood next to a gold medal from Ukraine.
The International Gymnastics Federation, known as FIG, denounced the “shocking behavior” Kuliak and pledged to ask its independent integrity unit to investigate.
Russian Ivan Kuliak wore the letter Z on his chest during the Artic Gymnastics World Cup in Doha.The Z is reportedly a symbol of support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (Kuliak won bronze in parallel bars. Ukraine’s Kovtun Illia won gold.)https://t.co/iZ1Kb5RIUq pic.twitter.com/Qi6wGHMGHO
— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) March 5, 2022
“We can confirm that (FIG) has informed us that they will formally be seeking the opening of disciplinary proceedings against male artic gymnast Ivan Kuliak,” the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation said Monday.
The International Gymnastics Federation has condemned Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak for wearing a “Z” on his chest in support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Kuliak, who won bronze at the gymnastics World Cup event, eventually stood next to Ukrainian gold medal Illia Kovtun. pic.twitter.com/ysLfvzfxM3
— The Recount (@therecount) March 7, 2022
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 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.