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SPORTS | 08-06-2024 11:36

Argentine IndyCar racer Agustín Canapino takes leave amid online abuse row

Online abuse leads to Argentine IndyCar racer Agustín Canapino taking a leave of absence.

Online abuse after two cars bumped on an IndyCar restart has led to Argentine racer Agustín Canapino taking a leave of absence after dismissing French rival Theo Pourchaire's death threat claims.

Juncos Hollinger Racing (JHR) announced on Friday that US driver Nolan Siegel would replace Canapino for this weekend's race at Road America as the South American takes a leave of absence after becoming the target of online vitriol.

"Online abuse is unacceptable and we need to ensure that our drivers are prepared both mentally and physically when they get in the car," JHR co-owner Brad Hollinger said. "We're saddened by the events that led to this scenario."

The situation unfolded after an incident in last Sunday's Detroit Grand Prix, in which Pourchaire was seventh despite a penalty for avoidable contact and Canapino was 18th.

Pourchaire posted Monday on X, formerly Twitter, that he had received death threats and hateful posts over the incident.

"I'm sad I received so much hate and death threats in the last 24 hours for such a small incident in the Detroit GP," he posted. "I hope people can understand that we are all humans and we can make mistakes. But it's not normal to abuse people online. Please be kind to each other."

That prompted Canapino to reply in a Tuesday statement, saying while he is against abuse, he felt accusing his fans of making death threats was improper.

"We Argentines are passionate and euphoric but that doesn't mean we should be accused of something we are not. Therefore, I strongly reject being generalized and placed in a category we don't deserve," he said.

"I've not seen a single death threat directed at those who claim to have received them. It's outrageous to be accused of this so lightly and I won't allow it anymore. If anyone did this, they are not part of us."

Canapino also took a jab at the Frenchman, saying: "I constantly receive abuse and hate and I have learned to live with it as many people do, choosing to ignore it. There's nothing sadder and more miserable than hiding behind social media to insult others."

Those comments brought online abuse down on Canapino, leading to his stepping away from the ride.

"The growth of online abuse and harassment resulting from the events of this week have led to a very difficult experience for Agustin," JHR said in a team statement.

"The safety of Agustin and the rest of the competitors has to be considered first and foremost.

"Abuse, hatred, and harassment in any form is a detriment to this sport, and we must prioritise the mental and physical wellbeing of both our drivers and our competition."

Both Pourchaire and Siegel took part in a Friday practice at Road America.

Canapino ranks 20th on the season points list while Pourchaire is 23rd.

 

– TIMES/AFP

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