According to The Telegraph , allegations of bullying and sexism have been made by the FIA’s former interim secretary general for motorsport Shaila-Ann Rao. The report states that a letter sent by Rao contains “numerous instances of sexist behaviour” which took place prior to her leaving the role in December 2022. It is also reported that the claims were never investigated, and that Telegraph Sport spoke to individuals – including ‘FIA staff, elected officials, World Motor Sport Council members and stewards’ – who allude to “erratic and bullying behaviour behind the scenes”. Rao had declined to comment on the reports, and an FIA spokesperson reportedly responded: “Shaila-Ann Rao was a temporary director at the FIA from June 1 2022 and then became interim secretary general for motor sport. 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.” The report continues to say that witnesses saw Ben Sulayem shouting at Rao in a Formula 1 paddock, and referring to her as “that woman”. In January, reports emerged of alleged historical sexist comments made by Ben Sulayem earlier in his career. At the time, the FIA responded: “The remarks in this archived website from 2001 do not reflect the FIA President’s beliefs. “He has a strong record on promoting women and equality in sport, which he is happy to be judged on.” In February, it was decided that the President would adopt a ‘more hands-off role’ to Formula 1 operations.

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