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September 23, 2009

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'Distraught' Briatore likely to sue FIA

FLAVIO Briatore is devastated by his life ban from Formula One for his role in a race-fixing scandal and may take legal action against motor sport's governing body, Italian media reported yesterday.

The flamboyant former Renault team boss was handed the sentence by the FIA on Monday for fixing last year's Singapore Grand Prix by ordering Nelson Piquet to crash.

"I am distraught," the 59-year-old Italian was quoted as saying by Gazzetta dello Sport.

Reports said he was planning to bring legal action against the FIA in the Paris courts to try to prove his innocence and win compensation for the damage to his image.

Briatore left Renault last week along with engineering head Pat Symonds, who was banned for five years on Monday.

Former world champion Renault did not contest the accusations and was handed a suspended permanent ban that will last until the end of the 2011 season.

Carlos Gracia, head of the Spanish motor sport federation and a member of the FIA's world motor sport council, was also shocked by the life ban.

"Briatore's (penalty) seems to me excessive, there was no clear proof against him and he was not able to defend himself either," he told Spanish sports newspaper Website "Morever, I wouldn't rule out him going to ordinary justice because he has been left without his means of earning a living."

Briatore did not attend Monday's Paris hearing. He is banned from all F1 activities meaning he can no longer manage Formula One drivers.

Italian media said he might now consider setting up a rival series to Formula One. Better as a businessman than on the pit wall, Briatore was among those planning a breakaway series when teams clashed with the FIA earlier this year and he has long said F1 has become too boring.

Briatore's future as co-owner of English football club Queens Park Rangers is also under threat.

The FIA disciplinary action puts him in violation of the Football League's "fit and proper person test" governing who can run a club.

League rules say that the owner, prospective owner or director of a club should not be "subject to a ban from a sports governing body relating to the administration of their sport."

Football League chairman Brian Mawhinney has written to the FIA to request further details of its decision.


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