FIA launches investigation into “unacceptable conduct”
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) has launched an investigation into the conduct of 15-year-old Russian karter Artem Severiukhin, who has been accused of performing a Nazi salute after a race at the Kartódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimão on Sunday.
Severiukhin had just won the final of the opening round of the FIA Karting European Championship while competing for Italy – due to a ban on Russia’s athletes competing for their country. The young karter was on the podium as the Italian national anthem was playing when he bumped his chest twice and appeared to perform a Nazi salute before bursting out into laughter.
Footage of the incident has been making rounds on social media, and on Monday afternoon FIA announced the launch of a formal investigation.
“The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile confirms that 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 the Kartodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal,” the statement said.
It added that FIA will “communicate shortly on the further steps that will be taken in this case.”
Motorsport.com reports that Severiukhin has denied that he gave a Nazi salute and said he was celebrating with his friends and family, who were standing opposite the podium.
“I would like to address everyone about yesterday’s situation on the podium,” he is quoted as saying by a Russian automobile federation spokesperson, according to motorsport.com
“I won the round of the European Championship and was very happy. I’m from Russia. I thanked the team and my relatives from Russia. Someone saw a bad gesture in my actions, but it’s not. I just thanked them. I am Russian, I am from Russia and I stand by my country,” he said.
His explanation has not convinced his team Ward Racing which voiced its outrage in an Instagram post and announced plans to terminate his contract.
“Ward Racing (…) condemns the personal actions of pilot Artem Severiukhin 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,” the team said.
It added: “With this statement, Ward Racing expressed 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 Severiukhin and will proceed with terminating his racing contract.”
Meanwhile, the Russian Automobile Federation has also said it is looking into the matter.
“The Russian Automobile Federation is clarifying the circumstances of the incident and the athlete’s act, and is also analysing the comments of the parties in connection with this,” it said in a statement.
“The Russian Automobile Federation informs that Artem Severiukhin was released from the RAF and competed in the European Championship under an Italian licence, which is why Artem has the Italian flag on the protocol and the Italian anthem sounded on the podium.
“We also report that we consider it unacceptable any, even an accidental, manifestation of fascism and Nazism in Russian motorsport and among Russian athletes,” the federation added.