Teenage Russian Karting Champion Investigated After Performing 'Nazi Salute' On Podium
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A teenage Russian go-karting champion is being investigated for 'unacceptable conduct' after appearing to perform a Nazi salute on a winner's podium.
Artem Severiukhin, 15, came first in the 11 to 15 age bracket at the FIA Karting European Championship in Portugal on Sunday.
As he stood on the podium during the post-race ceremony, Severiukhin beat his chest with his fist and then appeared to perform the salute.
🤮The Russian racer Artem Severiukhin demonstrates Nazi salute on the podium during the European Junior Karting Championship award ceremony in Portugal. The event is held under the aegis of the International Automobile Federation. pic.twitter.com/jgpIJuLkxv— Toronto Television / Телебачення Торонто (@tvtoront) April 11, 2022
He then laughed after making the gesture, apparently sharing a joke with a spectator in the crowd.
Severiukhin was competing under the Italian flag at the weekend due to the Russian flag and anthem being banned by motorsport’s governing body, the FIA, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russian president Vladimir Putin says the the invasion, which he continues to call a 'special military operation', is necessary to 'denazify' and 'demilitarise' Ukraine.
The FIA has confirmed it has launched an investigation into Severiukhin’s gesture.
"The FIA confirms it has launched an immediate investigation into the unacceptable conduct of Mr Artem Severiukhin that occurred during the podium ceremony for the OK category at Round 1 of the 2022 FIA Karting European Championship at Kartodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal," read a statement on Monday.
"The FIA will communicate shortly on the further steps that will be taken in this case."
Meanwhile, Severiukhin's team, Ward Racing, have confirmed they plan to terminate his contract.
"Ward Racing is deeply in shame of the pilot's behaviour which it condemns in the strongest possible terms. Action will promptly be taken accordingly," read a statement.
"The actions of Artem Severyukhin during the award ceremony on April 10, 2022 were exclusively individual and do not represent the views and values of Ward Racing in any manner. On the contrary, Ward Racing stands with the international community condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine and expresses its solidarity with the people suffering because of this unprovoked and horrific attack.
"Ward Racing accordingly condemns the personal actions of pilot Artem Severyukhin during the award ceremony on April 10, 2022 in the strongest possible terms, as it considers them a manifestation of unsportsmanlike behaviour, an unacceptable violation of the ethical and moral sports codex.
NEWS | 🇷🇺 Russian karting driver Artem Severiukhin has reacted on Telegram to the incident where he allegedly did a Nazi salute on the podium after a karting race. pic.twitter.com/lmY8aMgLQQ— F1 Feeder Series (@F1FeederSeries1) April 11, 2022
"With this statement, Ward Racing expresses its opinion, as well as the opinion of all athletes and staff of the Ward Racing team. On the basis of these considerations, Ward Racing sees no possibility for continued cooperation with Artem Severyukhin and will proceed with terminating his racing contract."
Severyukhin has since issued a public apology but claims he wasn’t making a Nazi salute.
"Standing on the podium, I made a gesture, and many perceived it as a Nazi salute. This is not true. I have never supported Nazism and consider it as one of the worst crimes against humanity," he said.
"I am registered under Italian license and born under an Italian flag. The guys in front of the podium told me that in Italy, in such cases, it is not customary to hit yourself on the chest in the heart area showing gratitude.
"I just wanted to make the gesture. How everything else happened, I cannot explain. I know that I was a fool. I am ready to be punished. Please believe there was no intention in my actions. There was no support for Nazism or fascism.
"There was no desire to offend spectators, fans, athletes or the team and all those who were watching the broadcast. Excuse me."
Featured Image Credit: FIA