- Jul 23, 2014
French racing driver Franck Montagny admits that his driving career may be over after the revelation of testing positive for a banned substance after a Formula E race.
The 36-year-old Frenchman, who had been driving for Andretti Autosport in this year's FIA Formula E Championship, told the French sports newspaper L'Equipe that he had tested positive for what has been identified as a cocaine derivative. Montagny withdrew from the most recent Formula E round in Punta del Este, Uruguay, citing a health issue.
Montagny told L'Equipe that the positive test had occured at the second round of the Formula E championship in Putrajaya, Malaysia: "At the end of the race, I saw the guys who signalled me. There in my head, I understood immediately. I knew it was over. I took the plane, I did not go out, [I was at] home, in my four walls. Then I called my parents to tell them. I was ashamed."
Montagny is suspended indefinitely from competition while awaiting a formal sanctioning from the FIA, which may include a lengthy ban from competition, and being stripped of his Formula E results that include a 2nd place finish in the inaugural race in Beijing. Per the FIA International Sporting Code, "violation of the regulations in individual sports in connection with an in-competition test automatically leads to disqualification of the results obtained in that competition with all resulting consequences, including forfeiture of any trophies, medals, points and prize."
"Racing may be over for me," the Frenchman added, strongly punctuating his disappointment.
Montagny previously drove for Super Aguri F1 Team during the 2006 Formula One season, and had also served as a test driver for the Renault, Toyota, and Jordan F1 teams. He has been a television commentator for Formula One on the French Canal+ network. He has ten career starts in the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1998 to 2012, scoring four overall podiums as a driver for Peugeot and Pescarolo Sport. In addition, he has made three starts in North American open-wheel racing, including the last Champ Car World Series race at Long Beach in 2008, and the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis in 2014. Montagny has also raced in the American Le Mans Series, the International V8 Supercars Series, and was a two-time champion of the World Series by Nissan - the forerunner to the present-day Formula Renault 3.5 Series.
His is not the first high-profile doping case in international motorsport. In July of 2012, former Champ Car World Series and current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver A.J. Allmendinger tested positive for a banned stimulant, and was suspended for the remainder of the season. Jeremy Mayfield, a longtime NASCAR veteran and former race winner, tested positive for methamphetamine in May of 2009 - he was suspended indefinitely, and has not returned to NASCAR-sanctioned competition ever since.
Czech motorsport veteran Tomas Enge made his return to racing just this year following his 18 month suspension in 2012 for a banned substance. It was the second such test in his career, ten years after being disqualified from the Hungarian round of the International Formula 3000 Series for testing positive for marijuana - effectively stripping him of the series championship. This October, former Indycar and sports car veteran Randy Lanier was released from a United States federal prison after serving twenty-six years of a life sentence for his involvement in a multi-million dollar drug trafficking ring that also included fellow IMSA GT Series drivers John Paul Jr., Don Whittington, and Bill Whittington.
As of today, Andretti Autosport has not announced a replacement for Montagny at the upcoming Formula E race in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At the Punta del Este ePrix, Andretti fielded two cars for Jean-Eric Vergne and Matthew Brabham. Ex-Formula 1 driver Charles Pic raced for the team in Beijing as a teammate to Montagny.