Report: FIA president Ben Sulayem facing fresh accusations of sexism and bullying

Former interim secretary general for motorsport Shaila-Ann Rao sent letter detailing allegations.
  • Rao abruptly left the FIA last November
  • Letter was reportedly not followed up on

International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Mohammed Ben Sulayem is facing fresh accusations of sexism and bullying, according to The Telegraph.

The newspaper reports that Shaila-Ann Rao, who departed as interim secretary general for motorsport in November, sent a letter alleging numerous instances of sexist behaviour before she left.

Allegedly, these claims were never investigated. However, the FIA has told the BBC that ‘due process was followed’ after the accusations.

‘Due process was followed, with an amicable negotiation conducted by the president of the senate and, as such, no referrals were made to the ethics committee,’ said the FIA in a statement.

‘As previously stated, both parties agreed she [Rao] would leave her position in November 2022 and mutual privacy terms were agreed, as is common business practice.’

In reference to the wider allegations of bullying levelled against Ben Sulayem, the statement read: ‘There have been no complaints received against the president.’

The statement added: ‘The FIA takes allegations of abuse very seriously and addresses all complaints using robust and clear procedures.

‘As part of this, the FIA has an anti-harassment policy, an anonymous whistleblowing facility and an investigation procedure and all staff are made aware of these through an induction and regular training.’

The Telegraph says it has spoken to dozens of current and former FIA staff, who painted a picture of ‘erratic and bullying behaviour’ behind the scenes.

Ben Sulayem has already had to deny allegations of sexism this year after remarks from an old website resurfaced in which he said he did “not like women who think they are smarter than men… for they are not, in truth”.

The FIA said the remarks did not reflect Ben Sulayem’s current beliefs.

The under-fire 61-year-old conceded day-to-day control of Formula One in February after a number of controversial weeks at the helm of world motorsport.

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