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Russian gymnast banned for wearing pro-war ‘Z’ symbol next to Ukrainian rival

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak has been handed a one-year ban for displaying a symbol on his uniform supporting the invasion of Ukraine.

Kuliak had taped the “Z” symbol – seen on Russian tanks and military vehicles in Ukraine and adopted by war supporters – on his vest for a medal ceremony at a World Cup in March.

Along with the ban, Kuliak must return the bronze medal he won on parallel bars, the International Gymnastics Federation has said.

Kuliak, 20, stood alongside a gold medalist from Ukraine on the podium in Doha, Qatar.

“If the protective measures preventing Russian athletes from competing are still in place on May 17, 2023, the ban will continue and expire six months after the lifting of the said measures,” the federation’s disciplinary commission said in its decision.

The commission found that Kuliak violated the federation’s discipline, ethics, code of conduct and technical regulations “when he wore the letter ‘Z’ on his jersey during competition and the awards ceremony. price”.

Kuliak, a former national junior all-around champion who did not compete in the Tokyo Olympics, can appeal within 21 days.

The panel said no violations were found against head of the Russian delegation Valentina Rodionenko and coach Igor Kalabushkin.

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