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7 Mar, 2022 15:25

Gymnastics chiefs act over Russian star’s ‘shocking behavior’

Ivan Kuliak appeared at a medal ceremony with a 'Z' visible on his vest
Gymnastics chiefs act over Russian star’s ‘shocking behavior’

Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak faces an investigation over his "shocking behavior" at the medal ceremony at the Apparatus World Cup when he appeared with a 'Z' symbol added to his vest on Sunday, the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) has announced.

The 20-year-old World Cup debutant won bronze in the parallel bars competition in behind Ukrainian champion Ilya Kovtun and silver medalist Milad Karimi, of Kazakhstan.

Kuliak appeared last on the podium and appeared to have taped the letter, which is one of the insignia commonly seen on Russian military equipment, to the front of his top.

In a statement, FIG said: "The [federation] confirms that it will ask the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation to open disciplinary proceedings against male artistic gymnast Ivan Kuliak (RUS) following his shocking behaviour at the Apparatus World Cup in Doha, Qatar."

Russian and Belarusian athletes were appearing at an FIG event for the final time before sportspeople from the countries began an indefinite ban from the governing body.

FIG introduced the measure following the start of the military operation in Ukraine.

Kuliak underlined his pride in his achievement on Instagram, where he has almost 8,000 followers.

"World Cup Doha 2022," the prospect wrote alongside a video of himself performing on the bars. "No , guys – I didn't lose the gold, I won the bronze."

Former Russian Junior all-around and floor champion Kuliak was taking part in his first competition of the year.

The rising star impressed in Qatar after winning a wealth of medals at events in Russia.

Russian athletes competed at the World Cup under neutral status as part of FIG sanctions.

In a statement on Friday, FIG said it had enforced the punishments in order to protect the integrity of the sport, strengthen the safety of participants and oppose "all forms of violence and of sports injustice."