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Russian gymnast investigated for wearing pro-war symbol on podium next to Ukrainian

Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak is being investigated after wearing a national war symbol on his leotard as he stood next to a Ukrainian rival on the podium in Qatar on Saturday.

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) said it had opened disciplinary proceedings against Kuliak for his “shocking behaviour” at the Apparatus World Cup in Doha.

After earning bronze in the parallel bars final, Kuliak taped a letter ‘Z’ on to his chest and took to the podium next to gold medal winner Illia Kovtun of Ukraine.

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The letter Z has become symbolic with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has been seen painted on the side of tanks and military vehicles, as well as being worn by pro-war politicians in Russia.

This weekend was the final opportunity for Russian and Belarusian gymnasts to compete after their countries were sanctioned by the FIG as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

From Monday, Russian and Belarusian athletes, officials and judges will not be allowed to take part in FIG competitions or FIG-sanctioned competitions.

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