Mario Andretti: Franck Montagny should be banned for life

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Racing legend Mario Andretti feels that disgraced driver Franck Montagny should be permanently banned from the sport after he tested positive for a cocaine derivative recently.

In an interview with Germany’s Die Welt, Mario tells reporter Simon Pausch that if he had his way, Montagny’s career would be over.

“It is a big disappointment for us all, as he also endangered every other driver on the track,” he says in the Welt piece. “What he did is unforgivable in our sport.”

Montagny most recently competed in the first two races of the 2014-15 FIA Formula E season for Andretti Autosport, which is run by Mario’s son and former open-wheel standout Michael Andretti.

He has also made several one-off appearances for Michael’s team in the Verizon IndyCar Series over the course of his career.

Andretti Formula E had to call in Indy Lights driver Matthew Brabham to replace Montagny for Round 3 in Uruguay (at the time, the Frenchman cited a health issue as the reason for his absence there). For last weekend’s Round 4 in Buenos Aires, Michael’s son, IndyCar veteran Marco, took over the team’s second car and finished 13th.

Despite Montagny’s failed test, Mario feels that doping is far from widespread in the sport and that current anti-doping regulations in place are doing what they’re designed to do.

“There are always some black sheep,” Mario conceded, “but there is no doping or drug problem in racing. The fact that Montagny was busted just shows that the control system works.”

It must be noted, however, that Montagny has yet to face official sanctions from the FIA.

NBCSN will present ‘Race and Sports in America: Conversations’ Monday

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With motor racing reckoning with its own issues of diversity and equality, “Race and Sports in America: Conversations” will tackle the topics of social justice with several athletes. The show will air at 8 p.m. ET Monday, July 13 on NBCSN, Golf Channel, Olympic channel and on regional sports networks.

The roundtable discussions will be hosted by Damon Hack and feature Charles Barkley, Steph Curry, Jimmy Rollins and Ozzie Smith in one segment. The other segment will include Kyle Rudolph, Anthony Lynn, Troy Mullins and James Blake.

Race has been a major topic in motorsports this year.

NASCAR banned the Confederate flag at its race after lobbying by Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver in the premier Cup Series. In Formula One, six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton has joined Black Lives Matter marches in London and also formed a panel on diversity. The lone Black driver in F1 also led 14 of 20 drivers taking a knee before the season opener in Austria.