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10 Mar, 2022 11:37

Disciplinary case opened against Russian ‘Z’ gesture gymnast – media

The Gymnastics Ethics Foundation is looking into the Russian's 'Z' symbol gesture at a World Cup event
Disciplinary case opened against Russian ‘Z’ gesture gymnast – media

The Gymnastics Ethics Foundation (GEF) has formaally opened proceedings against Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak after his 'Z' symbol protest at a World Cup event in Doha, as confirmed by the organization to Russian media.

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) accused Kuliak of "shocking behavior" when picking up a bronze medal in the parallel bars event won by Ukrainian gold medalist Illia Kovtun last Saturday.

Kuliak taped a 'Z' symbol to his leotard, which has been displayed on tanks during Russia's ongoing military operation in Ukraine.

And as it had threatened to in a statement on Monday, the FIG passed on its concerns to the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation to open proceedings against the 20-year-old, which the body has now done.

"At the official request of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation opened disciplinary proceedings against artistic gymnast Ivan Kuliak regarding his behavior at the Gymnastics World Cup in Doha and appointed a collegium of the GEF disciplinary commission," confirmed a spokeswoman to Russian outlet TASS.

The GEF said it could not disclose any details of the case for confidentiality reasons while it is "important to protect the integrity of the procedure, as well as the rights of all parties involved."

"We have a dedicated disciplinary commission as well as an appeals tribunal," the GEF explained, with its disciplinary proceedings governed under FIG code in addition to international and Swiss law.

Once a decision has been made on Kuliak's fate by the disciplinary commission, it will be brought to the attention of the GEF director who will then pass it on to all interested parties.

In an interview with RT earlier this week, Kuliak said that the FIG or GEF hadn't contacted him but was defiant in expressing no regrets for his actions. 

"If there was a second chance and I would again have to choose whether to go out with the letter 'Z' on my chest or not, I would do exactly the same," he vowed.

"I saw it with our military and looked at what this symbol means. It turned out [it means], 'for victory' and 'for peace'," Kuliak highlighted. 

"I didn't wish anything bad on anyone, I just showed [what] my position [was]. As an athlete, I will always fight for victory and stand for peace."  

Kuliak also claimed that though there wasn't any personal aggression towards him during the World Cup event in Doha, the general behavior of the Ukrainians at the competition "greatly escalated" tensions and prompted him to commit his act.

"Their behavior at some points was completely unacceptable," Kuliak said. 

"During performances they would shout 'Glory to Ukraine!' or go out on the podium wrapped in the national flag while we were considered neutral athletes, and because of this we felt uncomfortable."

"Many different things happened," Kuliak continued. 

"But most of it all, it was frustrating because they asked for us to be removed from the [tournament] although we did nothing wrong to anyone. 

"We came to perform, but in the end we didn't know until the very end whether we would be allowed to the finals or not," added the gymnast, in reference to the sweeping bans on Russian athletes at international events that many federations have imposed following an International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommendation.

Kuliak and his compatriots were allowed to advance to the finals where he won bronze, and the youngster revealed he is now preparing for the Russian Championships three weeks from now.

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