Russian karting champion, 15, investigated by FIA for ‘Nazi salute’ on podium

Russian karting champion Artem Severiukhin is being investigated by the FIA after appearing to display the Nazi salute after competing at the European Karting Championships. Severiukhin had won the 11-15 race in Portugal and therefore took to the top of the podium.

While being recognised for his victory, the teenager beat his chest before opening his palm and pointing his arm out. Severiukhin then quickly dropped his arm before falling into hysterical laughter. He denies he was making a Nazi salute.

Following the controversy, the 15-year-old has had his contract terminated by his Swedish-based team Ward Racing, and is now subject to an ‘immediate investigation’ over his actions.

The sport’s governing body described Severiukhin's salute as ‘unacceptable conduct’. “The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile confirmed that it has launched an immediate investigation,” the statement confirmed.

“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 FIA will communicate shortly on the further steps that will be taken in this case.”

Following his actions, Severiukhin has since had his contract terminated by his Swedish team Ward Racing, who admitted in a statement that they were ‘in shame’. The team confirmed: “Ward Racing condemns the personal actions of pilot Artem Severiukhin during the award ceremony on April 10, 2022 in the strong possible terms, as it considers them a manifestation of unsportsmanlike behaviour, an unacceptable violation of the ethical and moral sports codex.”

“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.” The 15-year-old took to the podium under the flag of Italy, and performed the salute whilst the Italian national anthem was played.

Reports have suggested that Severiukhin could well have been performing the fascist Roman salute of Italy, due to competing under the nation's flag. However, the far right signal has been illegal in Italy since 1952.

In a statement, the 15-year-old has since apologised, and revealed that it is ‘customary’ for Italian athletes to hit their chests: “I want to apologise to everyone for what happened yesterday in the European Karting Championship. Standing on the podium, I made a gesture which many perceived as a Nazi salute. It's not true, I have never supported Nazism.

“It was one of the worst crimes against humanity. But I raced under an Italian licence and flag and the guys in front of the podium showed me that in Italy, in such cases, it's customary to hit yourself on the chest in the heart area. I just wanted to make a gesture, and how everything has happened, I can't explain. I know that I'm a fool and I am ready to be punished, I am sorry.”

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