Iran: Female race car driver barred from competition

Tehran, 4 Dec. (AKI) - Iran's top female race car driver, Laleh Seddigh, has been banned from competing in Iran for one year by the Iranian racing federation.

Seddigh, who is known as the "Schumacher of the East" after the German Formula One champion, was accused of having tampered with her car's engine during her last race in Iran.

"It's a conspiracy," said Seddigh in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI). "I did not commit any irregularities. They simply want to exclude me from racing because I'm a woman," she said.

"I changed the car before the start of the race because it was faulty and gave the federation lots of notice," Seddigh told AKI.

"Two male drivers who were participating in the same race did exactly the same thing. However while I was punished, the other two can continue to race," she said.

"They probably did not appreciate the fact that I am a woman and at the same time the most famous racecar driver in the Middle East," she said. "They would prefer to see a woman with a frying pan or an iron in her hand."

Seddigh was the first woman to ever compete against men in any sport in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution. She races in Formula Three in Bahrain and in Iran she competes in rallies - the only category where women are allowed.

Despite the ban, Seddigh said that she does not intend to give up race-car driving.

"They're mistaken if they think that stopping me from racing for a year is going to put me in retirement," she told AKI.


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