A Russian gymnast is facing immense criticism after displaying his support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine during the Apparatus World Cup in Doha, Qatar.
Before heading to the podium to be awarded a bronze medal, Ivan Kuliak taped a white “Z” to his chest, which has become a symbol to show support of the invasion. The symbol has been painted on Russian tanks and vehicles. Kuliak displayed the symbol while standing next to Ukrainian gymnast Illia Kovtun, who won the gold medal in the event.
The International Gymnastics Federation blasted Kuliak for his “shocking behavior” and called for a disciplinary hearing.
“The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) confirms that it will ask the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation to open disciplinary proceedings against Ivan Kuliak following his shocking behavior at the Apparatus World Cup in Doha, Qatar,” the group said in a statement.
According to The Guardian, Kuliak could have his medal revoked or face a lengthy ban for his actions on the podium.
Ukraine’s 2016 Olympic parallel bars champion Oleg Verniaiev took issue with Kuliak in a post on Instagram.
“Of course, you will excuse me, but let the Russians not shout that sport is out of politics! Congratulations to our guy, everything is in its place, glory to Ukraine,” he wrote.
FIG said that starting on Monday (March 7), all Russian and Belarusian athletes, officials, and judges will be banned from participating in any officially-sanctioned competitions. That decision was made before Kuliak wore the “Z” on his chest.