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Russian Gymnast Will Be Investigated For Wearing 'War Symbol' On Podium Next To Ukrainian Athlete

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Russian Gymnast Will Be Investigated For Wearing 'War Symbol' On Podium Next To Ukrainian Athlete

The Russian gymnast who sparked outrage after wearing the ‘Z’ symbol seen on Russian war machinery in Ukraine is now being investigated.

Ivan Kuliak wore the controversial symbol while standing on the podium alongside a Ukrainian at the World Cup event in Doha, Qatar.

He finished third on the parallel bars as Ukraine’s Illia Kovtun took home the gold.

However, Kuliak made sure the symbol was seen as the cameras came in close for the medal presentation ceremony.

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Credit: Doha World Cup
Credit: Doha World Cup

The International Gymnastics Federations (FIG) has now said it is investigating the incident.

In a statement, it said: “It will ask the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation to open disciplinary proceedings against Ivan Kuliak following his shocking behavior.”

For those unaware, the symbol is extremely controversial as it has been seen painted onto Russian tanks and military vehicles during the invasion of Ukraine, which has been met with widespread condemnation from the international community.

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Russian athletes are currently not allowed to compete under their own flag or have the Russian anthem played.

The FIG also announced that no Russian or Belarusian gymnasts or officials will be allowed at international competitions indefinitely starting from Monday (7 March).

Credit: Doha World Cup
Credit: Doha World Cup

The ‘Z’ symbol has generated much interest since it was seen, with several theories existing as to what it stands for.

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It is thought that it could just be a way for Russian forces to recognise one another, given that Ukraine has some similar military vehicles, but it also stands for the Russian phrase ‘for victory’.

Last November, 20-year-old Kuliak received some training with the Russian military.

After Kuliak’s message at the ceremony was spotted, Ukrainian gymnast Oleg Verniaiev shared an Instagram post expressing his rage.

He wrote: “Of course, you will excuse me, but let the Russians not shout that sport is out of politics!

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“Congratulations to our guy [the Ukrainian winner], everything is in its place glory to Ukraine.”

Kuliak is not the first Russian athlete to publicly support Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

Earlier this week, two-time Olympic gold medallist Svetlana Khorkina shared the ‘Z’ symbol online with the caption: “A campaign for those who are not ashamed to be Russian.

“Let’s spread it.”

Featured Image Credit: Doha World Cup

Topics: Russia, Ukraine, Sport

Anish Vij
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