FIA breaks silence on allegations of ‘sexist behaviour’ by Mohammed Ben Sulayem

Former FIA interim secretary general for motorsport Shaila-Ann Rao accused the FIA president of sexist behaviour.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has once again found himself in incredibly hot water, after a former employee of the governing body reportedly wrote a letter accusing him of sexist behaviour.

According to The Telegraph, Shaila-Ann Rao wrote the letter before she departed the FIA last December, with it not being the first time that the FIA president has been accused of being sexist.

Over the recent winter break, old comments from Ben Sulayem resurfaced, where he stated that he does “not like women who think they are smarter than men… for they are not in truth”.

Rao held the role of interim secretary general for motorsport but left just six months after taking on the gig at the FIA.

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Her departure was supposedly an “amicable decision”, as stated by an FIA spokesperson.

However, BBC Sport have been informed by one of their senior sources that her letter is real and was delivered, putting the FIA president in the spotlight once again.

According to the FIA’s statutes, any investigation into whether Ben Sulayem has breached the governing body’s code of ethics must be reviewed by their Senate.

“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,” the FIA stated, following a series of questions from BBC Sport.

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“As previously stated, both parties agreed she would leave her position in November 2022 and mutual privacy terms were agreed, as is common business practice.”

The FIA added that “there have been no complaints received against the president” in regard to potential bullying, something which had been rumoured.

The statement went on to say that: “The FIA takes allegations of abuse very seriously and addresses all complaints using robust and clear procedures.

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“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.”

Despite all of this, pressure is continuing to mount on Ben Sulayem, who has already faced several accusations despite having only taken on the role of FIA president in December 2021.

As well as that, he’s already angered Liberty Media and the majority of the teams, after interfering with reports that the American company rejected a huge offer to purchase F1’s commercial rights.