• The Inside Line

All guns blazing, some mis-firing

ESPN Staff
November 1, 2013
© Sutton Images

The FIA presidential elections are beginning to look an awful lot like the Punch and Judy show, characterised by bust-ups punctuated by the odd bit of song and dance.

As the F1 circus relaxed by a series of swimming pools in Abu Dhabi's five-star hotels, David Ward released a compare and contrast list of FIA and IOC statutes, demonstrating the myriad of ways in which the Federation failed to adhere to the International Olympic Committee's standards of good governance.

On the Ward&Team2013 website an article appeared that stated "Ward's comparative analysis shows that the FIA's election processes, its ethics committee, and its financial reporting fail to match good governance principles and practices of the IOC," while providing a link to a copy of a detailed summary sent to the FIA membership.

Less than two days later, however, the IOC themselves refuted Ward's claims, in a letter also sent to the FIA membership at large.

In that letter from the IOC, dated 31 October 2013, IOC sports director Christophe Dubi highlighted the Olympic Committee's practices, which allow for each member federation to set its own standards regarding internal governance and administration.

"As per Rule 25 of the Olympic Charter, each International Federation recognised by the IOC maintains its independence and autonomy in the administration of its sport," Dubi wrote. "Each Federation is responsible for determining the internal structures, including the composition of governing bodies and commissions, which are best suited to their sport.

"During the recognition procedure, many discussions were held between the FIA and the IOC Sports Department, particularly regarding the involvement of athletes in governing bodies. The IOC Executive Board and subsequently the IOC Session duly noted that the FIA was compliant with all the criteria and granted full recognition to the International Federation in September2013."

Ward and incumbent Jean Todt have taken two dramatically different approaches to their election campaigns. One man has entered the field with all guns blazing, using every weapon in his considerable political arsenal to highlight what he sees as weaknesses in the Federation's standards of administration and governance. The other has taken a quieter approach, one which initially opened the incumbent up to accusations of inaction, but which over time has appeared to be ever more tactical.

By declaring war on the FIA's practices, Ward has alienated a significant number of his former colleagues, many of whom are now privately asking where this passion for reform was in the years the Briton spent working with former president Max Mosley - years that could have been spent working to change the way in which the Federation was run.

Even those who are privately sympathetic to Ward's position are critical of his approach, asking why this need for revolution has had to come about through such public revelation. A gentler strategy would not have garnered as many headlines, but it may well have put Ward in a stronger position to fight for the presidency and win.

As things currently stand, there are many who agree with Ward's stated aims, but who are loath to publicly associate themselves with a man so keen to bite the hand that fed him for so many years.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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