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Russian gymnast banned for wearing pro-war symbol on podium

Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak has been given a one-year ban for wearing a national war symbol on the podium at an event in Qatar in March.

Kuliak earned bronze in the parallel bars final of the Apparatus World Cup in Doha and displayed a letter ‘Z’ taped to his chest as he stood next to Ukraine’s Illia Kovtun, who won gold.

Kuliak must now return his medal, but has a right to appeal within 21 days.

The letter Z became symbolic with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

It was painted on the side of tanks and military vehicles, as well as being worn by pro-war politicians in Russia.

The incident was investigated by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) and Kuliak was sanctioned by the disciplinary commission of the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation (GEF) for violating FIG rules.

The 20-year-old is not allowed to participate in any FIG-sanctioned event or competition organised by an affiliated FIG member federation for 12 months.

A statement added that: “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.”

Kuliak must also repay his prize money of 500 Swiss francs (£403) and pay a contribution of the costs of the proceedings in the sum of 2,000 Swiss francs (£1,612).

No violation of FIG rules was found against the head of the Russian delegation, Valentina Rodionenko and coach Igor Kalabushkin.

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