He taped the letter on his shirt after he lost to Ukraine.
A Russian gymnast is facing a ban from the sport because he wore the letter "Z" at a recent World Cup event, and it's got everything to do with his country's invasion of Ukraine.
Ivan Kuliak is currently under investigation after stepping up to the podium in Qatar on Saturday with a "Z" taped onto his shirt.
Ukrainian Illya Kovtun won gold in a gymnastics event in Qatar. Russian Ivan Kuliak won bronze. Then the Russian - with a pompous, smug look on his face - wore a pro-war 'z' symbol on the podium. Disgusting.pic.twitter.com/BC3hnfvKBo— Don Lewis (@Don Lewis) 1646618990
The letter has become a symbol to support Russia's invasion of Ukraine, The Guardian reports. It's been spotted on Russian tanks in Ukraine, and is reportedly meant to symbolize "victory."
Kherson, reportedly today. Heavy Russian armoured presence. It is like a tank highway evenpic.twitter.com/U9q69LmG9z— Rag\u0131p Soylu (@Rag\u0131p Soylu) 1646224260
It seems Kuliak made the "Z" out of tape before taking the podium in Doha on Saturday. The letter was in place of where the Russian flag would be, reported CNBC.
The entire situation was even more awkward because Kuliak, who came in third place and won bronze, was standing on the podium next to Ukrainian gymnast Illia Kovtun, who won gold in the competition.
The International Gymnastics Federation described the stunt as "shocking behaviour" on Sunday, in a press release announcing that Kuliak will face discipline for the move.
This decision comes two days after the FIG announced stricter measures against Russia and Belarus for their attacks on Ukraine. The FIG followed the International Olympic Committee in banning Russian and Belarusian athletes from competition, beginning on March 7.
The Russians won three gold medals at the World Cup in "what was to be their last competition for now," the FIG said on Monday.
No specific punishment for Kuliak had been announced as of Monday morning.
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.