Kamaz-Master refused to sign a document that would allow them to participate in the world famous race
The Russian Kamaz-Master team will not participate in the next Dakar rally after announcing that they will not sign documents which they say would have obliged them to “denounce” their own country.
The development means that for the first time in 24 years the world famous Dakar rally will have no Russian representation, with Kamaz-Master having taken an impressive total of 19 victories – while Russia as a whole can claim 20 titles, second only to France in the all-time list.
In a post on the team’s official website, Kamaz-Master denounced the requirement by the international governing body, the FIA, which allows Russians to race under neutral status, but on the condition that they sign certain documents including statements on the situation in Ukraine.
“The participation of Russian athletes in the Dakar Rally is due to the need to sign the International Automobile Federation (FIA) questionnaire condemning the Russian special operation in Ukraine“, the team said.
“In our opinion, the content of this document is political in nature and also violates the principles of a level playing field for athletes. We believe that it is impossible for us to sign such documents and participate in competitions under such conditions..”
Kamaz-Master also said their choice to step down was “obvious” and pledged their support to “the Fatherland, especially when it is in a difficult situation.”
Motorsport’s governing body, the FIA, announced last March that it would not allow Russian drivers to compete without “acknowledging the strong commitment made by the FIA to stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people”, as well as the promise not to “express any support (direct or indirect) for Russian and/or Belarusian activities towards Ukraine.”
This came amid wider restrictions imposed on Russian sport by various sports federations, which followed a harsh rebuke from Russia by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
It became clear earlier this month that entry requirements would likely be a sticking point for Russian riders.
Sergey Karyakin, Russia’s 2017 Dakar champion, said earlier this month he wanted to participate but expressed condemnation of the document he would be required to sign.
“They don’t just ask me to sign [the document], but also all Russian athletes. All those who participate within the FIA. It is the demand of the FIA, which has cried loudest about the lack of politics in the sport, but in reality there is a policy of double standards“, Karyakin 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 as destructive. That is, in this format.”
He added: “Of course, I will not sign such a document, I have certain principles in life, going against my homeland is completely wrong.”
Another Russian, Anastasiya Nifontova, also rejected the request to add her signature to the document and therefore excluded herself from Dakar.
However, Konstantin Zhiltsov is the one who will race in Dakar after opting to change his nationality from Russian to Israeli to circumvent such restrictions.
The Dakar rally will start on December 31 and will continue until January 15 in Saudi Arabia.
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