Russian Gymnast Given One-Year Ban For Wearing Pro-War ‘Z’ Symbol On Podium

The Russian gymnast who wore the letter “Z” on his singlet on the podium at March’s Apparatus World Cup in Doha, Qatar, in support of the war in Ukraine, has been banned from competition for one year.

Ivan Kuliak, 20, who took home bronze in the parallel bars, has been ordered to return his medal by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG). Kuliak stood with the “Z” across his chest while standing next to Ukrainian gold medalist Illia Kovtun. The “Z” is a symbol that Russian forces have used to identify their vehicles in Ukraine following the invasion.

“Mr Kuliak breached the FIG Statutes, the FIG Code of Discipline, the FIG Code of Ethics, the FIG Code of Conduct and the FIG Technical Regulations when he wore the letter ‘Z’ on his singlet,” the governing body said in a statement on Tuesday, via ESPN.

“[He] is not allowed to participate in any FIG-sanctioned event or competition organized by an affiliated FIG member federation for one year as of the date of this decision.”

Kuliak will also have to return his prize money of 500 Swiss francs ($502.87) and has 21 days to appeal the decision. Kuliak issued a statement defending his use of the symbol and said that he stands for peace.

“I saw it with our military and looked at what this symbol means. It turned out [it means], ‘for victory’ and ‘for peace,’” Kuliak said. “I didn’t wish anything bad on anyone, I just showed [what] my position [was]. As an athlete, I will always fight for victory and stand for peace. Only [for that] and everything.”

The FIG has already banned all Russian and Belarusian gymnasts from competing in future events. If the ban shall still be in place one year from the start of Kuliak’s ban, then he will face an additional six-month ban from whenever the mandates have been lifted.

Follow Nick Geddes on Twitter @NickGeddesNews and on Instagram @nick.geddes.  

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Written by Nick Geddes

Nick is a 2021 graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in political science. Nick is a life-long sports fan who is proud to say he suffered through 15 years of Bucs futility to witness a Super Bowl victory in 2020. Nick has a passion for writing and is proud to represent OutKick. Follow me on Twitter @NickGeddesNews and on Instagram @nick.geddes.

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