Ivan Kuliak has claimed a ban from gymnastics would be "unfair" ©YouTube

Ivan Kuliak has claimed a potential ban from the sport would be unfair, with the Russian gymnast facing a sanction over displaying the controversial “Z” symbol linked to the war in Ukraine on the podium at a Gymnastics World Cup event in Doha.

Kuliak had displayed the symbol having finished third in the men’s parallel bars in the Qatari capital, an event won by Ukraine’s Illia Kovtun.

Kuliak reportedly faces a one-year ban from the sport, according to Russian Gymnastics Federation coordinator Valentina Rodionenko.

Rodionenko and coach Igor Kalabushkin allegedly face the same potential sanction.

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) has told insidethegames the organisation will not comment on an ongoing process, although the governing body had labelled Kuliak’s actions as "shocking behaviour" when the disciplinary proceedings were launched.

Prior to the event in Doha on March 6, the FIG had announced that all Russian gymnasts and officials would be banned from international events from March 7 until further notice in line with global sporting sanctions against the country.

The symbol on his shirt was in place of the Russian flag, which had been banned by FIG.

Russian officials have suggested a hearing will take place between March 28 and April 1 and be held online.

Kuliak, who attached to his shirt the letter "Z" - widely seen on the sides of Russian tanks in Ukraine, has previously been unrepentant over his action.

After disciplinary proceedings were opened, the 20-year-old reportedly wrote on his Instagram "Whatever they do to me, I will still smile".

Kuliak has now claimed a ban would be "unfair" in an interview with Russian outlet Life.

The "Z" symbol has been used by Russia in support of the invasion of Ukraine ©Getty Images

"In general, I consider it unfair to remove me," Kuliak said.

"I didn’t do anything infringing.

"I didn’t violate any of these rules, and now they want to remove me.

"This is all about the attitude towards our country."

Kuliak has claimed his decision to display the “Z” symbol was designed to show his support 'for victory' and 'for peace', while alleging he had been provoked by Ukrainian athletes shouting pro Ukraine slogans.

The nationalist Z symbol was also on display during a pro-war rally organised by Russian President Vladimir Putin at Luzhniki Stadium on Friday (March 18).

It has been reported that Kuliak was among the attendees at the event.

Several Russian Olympians were seen in kit displaying the letter, including gymnasts Dina and Arina Averina.

Photos reportedly posted by the gymnasts on Telegram after the event saw the Z symbol blurred.

It has also been reported that Kuliak attended the rally.

Figure skaters Nikita Katsalapov and Victoria Sinitsina, Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, who all won medals at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, were also seen in kit displaying the symbol.

Cross-country skier Alexander Bolshunov, winner of three gold medals at Beijing 2022, was also seen on stage, but was reportedly not wearing the symbol which refers to the Russian military.