F1’s Olympic status called into question

Christian Sylt
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THE CHANCES of superstar drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton ever winning Olympic gold have been dealt a blow after a former senior politician claimed the practices of motor racing’s governing body are not in line with those of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Motor racing is not currently an Olympic event but moved a step closer last month when its governing body the FIA was granted full recognition by the IOC. The FIA said the move confirmed that its “statutes, practice and activities of the FIA are in full conformity with the Olympic Charter”.

But David Ward, a former policy adviser to late Labour leader John Smith who is now running to be FIA president, has written to the head of its decision-making body, the senate, suggesting that this is not the case.

At the heart of Ward’s claim is an alleged lack of disclosure in the FIA’s annual financial statements. The accounts for most key European motorsport businesses show related party transactions – payments to and from companies or individuals related to the owners or directors of the business.

Ward, who has also worked as an adviser to former FIA president Max Mosley, claims that the organisation’s policy is at odds with that of the IOC and, in a letter seen by City A.M. and dated 3 October, put his concerns to senate president Nick Craw.

In response, Craw said the FIA had been advised it did not need to follow International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) due to its non-profit status. He also insisted that “the FIA has always answered, with complete transparency, any questions that its members have raised regarding the accounts”.