Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak was given a one-year ban by the International Gymnastics Federation on Tuesday over his display of a "Z' symbol during a competition in March. According to a report by Scott Gleeson of USA Today, Kuliak wore the symbol on his leotard after winning bronze at the Apparatus World Cup in Qatar.
The "Z" symbol, which has been painted on Russian military equipment, has been embraced by supporters of the Russian war in Ukraine, according to CBS News.
As a result of his display of the "Z" symbol, Kuliak was not only banned from competition for a year, but also stripped of his bronze medal and all prize money. Kuliak has 21 days to appeal the IGF's decision.
Kuliak's suspension is the latest sanction issued by the IGF in response to Russia's war with Ukraine. The organization has already banned other Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in events.
"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," read a statement by the IGF governing body. "(Kuliak) 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.
"If the protective measures keeping Russian athletes from competing are still in place on May 17, 2023, the ban shall continue and expire six months after the removal of said measure."
Kuliak himself claimed that the symbol means "for victory" and "for peace", and expressed no regrets on his decision to wear the symbol.
"I didn't wish anything bad on anyone, I just showed my position," he said.