Ex-Toto Wolff advisor accuses Mohammed Ben Sulayem of sexism

Shaila-Ann Rao left the FIA at the end of last year, following a six-month stint working for the governing body.

It has astonishingly been revealed by Telegraph Sport that the FIA’s former interim secretary general for motorsport Shaila-Ann Rao sent a letter to the governing body alleging several cases of sexist behaviour by FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who has found himself in hot water before for sexist comments.

Rao left her position at the FIA in December last year, just six months after taking on the job.

According to Telegraph Sport’s sources, the letter was sent to Ben Sulayem and to Carmelo Sanz de Barros, the president of the FIA Senate before she left the FIA.

It’s the Senate who would carry out any investigation into the FIA president, should it be deemed that they breached the FIA’s code of ethics.

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However, Telegraph Sport have reported that Rao’s claims were never investigated, despite having heard from several other senior figures that the FIA president had demonstrated bullying and inappropriate behaviour behind-the-scenes.

With Ben Sulayem having a history of sexism, it will come as a huge shock that Rao’s claims weren’t investigated, with it very much putting the spotlight on the FIA and not in a positive way.

“Shaila-Ann Rao was a temporary director at the FIA from June 1 2022 and then became interim secretary general for motor sport,” the FIA stated following questions by Telegraph Sport in regard to the letter.

“In Nov 2022 it was decided by both parties that she would leave that position. Mutual privacy terms have been agreed as is commonplace in business. Neither party has made a reference to the FIA Ethics Committee.”

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The FIA’s comments lead to the idea that Rao should’ve pursued for an investigation to take place, something which goes completely against the governing body’s statutes.

According to the FIA’s statutes, any alleged breach of the code of ethics must be fully investigated, after being referred to the FIA’s Ethics Committee.

In a case like this where the allegations are against the FIA president, the Senate is given the results, where they can then decide whether “further action” is required.

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As mentioned, it’s not the first time that Ben Sulayem has been accused of being sexist, after old comments by the FIA president resurfaced during the winter break.

The comments made by Ben Sulayem stated that he does “not like women who think they are smarter than men… for they are not, in truth”.

The FIA defended Ben Sulayem by sharing that he doesn’t possess those views.