Gymnast From Russia Gives A Metaphorical Middle Finger To His Ukrainian Competitor After Losing


Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak faced criticism Saturday at the Gymnastics World Cup event in Doha, Qatar, for his conduct toward Ukrainian competitor Illia Kovtum. 

At the event, 20-year-old Kuliak taped the letter “Z” on his leotard, a symbol linked to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to the Guardian. Though the letter “Z” is not present in the Russian Cyrillic alphabet, it has been pictured written on the sides of Russian military vehicles invading Ukraine, becoming a symbol of support for the Russian attack on the neighboring nation, the Guardian reported. (RELATED: Putin Allegedly Hiding Mistress And Their Children In Switzerland)

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) called Kuliak’s behavior “shocking,” with him reportedly choosing to tape it to his chest prior to standing next to Kovtum at the medals podium, the Guardian article reported. The gymnastics governing body intends to ask the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation to start disciplinary proceedings against the Russian gymnast, according to a statement posted to the FIG’s official website. 

Kuliak came in third in the competition, with Ukraine’s Kovtum placing first, the Guardian reported. Despite displaying the letter “Z” on his shirt, Kuliak could be seen standing close to Kovtum for photographs at the winner’s podium, as shown in a video posted to Twitter.