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Rio Olympics 2016: Ukraine ends mystery around controversial 'strategy'

Ukraine's Oleg Verniaiev celebrates after his routine on the parallel bars during the artistic gymnastics men's team final at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Photo / AP
Ukraine's Oleg Verniaiev celebrates after his routine on the parallel bars during the artistic gymnastics men's team final at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Photo / AP

Ukraine offered a medical explanation Tuesday for why it appeared to quit while competing in the men's team gymnastics final Monday at Rio Olympic Park.

It was a stunning and, to gymnastics commentators, outrageous sight when the team willingly took scores of zero in the eight-team final, ensuring a last-place finish. Three athletes from each five-member team are sent to perform on each apparatus, but Ukraine had only two in the high bar, parallel bars and rings.

Maksym Semiankiv went to the high bar but hung on for a brief moment, then dropped and nodded toward the judges, apparently indicating an injury. He was given a seven and was scratched in the parallel bars. Ukraine did use three athletes on the pommel horse.

Ukraine's Oleg Verniaiev explained on Instagram that a member of the team had to go to a hospital, but provided little other transparency.

"I would like to personally apologize for the situation in today's team final competition. There was unpredictable circumstances. We found out that we won't be competing as a full team 15 minutes prior to start of the competition when one of our team members came back from the hospital. At that point we weren't able to change our line up.

"I would like to personally apologize in front of Switzerland team as well. I'm sure they were disappointed to see this situation tonight."

Switzerland finished ninth in team qualifying, less than three points behind Ukraine, which was seventh.

- Washington Post

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