Rally star refuses requests to ‘denounce Russia’
Rally driver Sergey Karyakin has said he is unwilling to submit to requirements from motor sport governing body the FIA, which allows Russian drivers to compete at international events but only as neutrals and under strict conditions.
The FIA announced back in March that Russians and Belarusians could race at events under its auspices, but that the terms included signing a document which acknowledged they would do so without any national symbols.
The list of requirements added that drivers from the two countries must “acknowledge the strong commitment made by the FIA to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine,” as well as promise not to “express any support (direct or indirect) for the Russian and/or Belarusian activities in respect of Ukraine.”
With the 2023 Dakar Rally approaching in Saudi Arabia in December and January, former champion Karyakin said those terms currently prevent his participation.
“They are asking not only me to sign [the document], but also all Russian athletes. Everyone who participates within the FIA. This is the requirement of the FIA, which screamed loudest about the lack of politics in sports, but in reality, there is a policy of double standards,” the 31-year-old told RIA Novosti.
“This piece of paper says that we should not support the president, the special operation, that we consider the actions of our country to be destructive. That is, in this format,” added the driver.
“In fact, the paper was given back in April. Therefore, I did not participate in the World Cup and other competitions.
“It has long been known. Now the question is being decided whether it is possible to participate without signing this paper.
“We are trying to push through so that the paper is canceled. It is anti-competitive...
“Lawyers are helping and other teams. There is a personal communication with the organizers, so we did not resort to the help of the Russian Ministry of Sports and the Russian Motorsport Federation.”
Speaking to TASS, Karyakin vowed that “of course I won’t sign such a document, I have certain principles in life, going against my homeland is completely wrong.”
Karyakin has enjoyed past success in the prestigious Dakar Rally, winning the quad category with Yamaha in 2017 and finishing second in the UTV (utility terrain vehicle) section in 2020.
While motorsport bosses have defied calls for the kind of blanket bans on Russian and Belarusian athletes seen elsewhere, they detailed strict conditions for their participation in a series of documents published on March 3.
Formula 1 also terminated its contract for the Russian Grand Prix, which was due to be held in Sochi for the ninth time in September before moving to the Igora Drive circuit just outside St. Petersburg from next year onwards.
Russian F1 driver Nikita Mazepin was sacked by American team Haas, which also ended its sponsorship deal with Russian company Uralkali.