The battle for the FIA presidency between David Ward and Jean Todt has taken a new turn after the challenger accused the incumbent of “attempts to distort the FIA’s election process.”
Ward alleges that Todt used FIA gatherings around the world earlier this year to garner support for his campaign for re-election. Ward is filing a complaint to the FIA’s Ethics Committee about the matter.
A release in his name says: “It appears that the FIA’s current Presidency has been using FIA resources to try to predetermine the election outcome even before the process had begun.
“The FIA arranges and pays for meetings around the world, including to discuss how regions will benefit from future FIA activities and resources. It emerges that, at these meetings, a number of clubs have been asked to sign formal written commitments to support Jean Todt’s re-election bid, in the form of ‘support agreements.’”
Ward added: “It is vital that the FIA election processes are conducted in a fair, democratic and transparent manner. I believe that demanding signature of support agreements in these circumstances represents a serious violation of the FIA’s rules, regulations and ethical code. The complaint will enable the Ethics Committee to investigate the legitimacy of these agreements, the circumstances in which signatures were demanded, and whether it is an appropriate use of the FIA’s resources for its staff and management to pursue Mr. Todt’s personal re-election ambitions at official FIA regional meetings”.
Meanwhile, on Monday Ward wrote to the FIA with a more general inquiry about how the election will be conducted, saying: “I note that the Election Guidelines requires the FIA Administration to maintain ‘a strict duty of neutrality and equality at all times,’ and that they should limit ‘their relations with the candidates strictly to the content of their mission.’
“I would like clarification that this duty of neutrality will apply not just to the employees among the FIA Administration but also to all external consultants and lawyers currently being paid by the FIA. It is, of course, of the utmost importance that no FIA resources are used in a biased manner in favor of any particular candidate.”
The sentiments of that letter may amuse some cynics, given that in 2009 Todt appeared to benefit from the heavyweight support of outgoing president Max Mosley and his associates – including Ward – while his rival Ari Vatanen struggled to get his voice heard.