The Fall of the F9000 was a controversy that involved the F9000 International Federation of Anti-Gravity Racing, administered by the Overtel Corporation, and other related parties, legitimate or not. The Anti-Gravity Purity Coalition exposed numerous sensitive documents, detailing various acts of corruption within the F9000 Race Commission. The subsequent investigations literally destroyed most of, if not all, the parties involved with the scandal, including Overtel itself.
In 2170, the concurrent fallout by the general public resulted in a global unrest and an economic depression that lasted until the end of the decade. AG racing would disappear as a reputable sport until its re-emergence in the 2180s, which led to the inauguration of the FX300 League in 2197.
Ever since the beginning of AG racing, Overtel had been obsessed with the sport, and was willing to try and gain control of it, with the intention of commercializing it and "maximising the audiences at any cost necessary." As such, Overtel bought the controlling stake of Qirex Industries in the 2050s and reared it to become the most successful team in the early years of AG racing history. However, this was viewed with suspicion by the Anti-Gravity Race Commission, especially Pierre Belmondo, who saw Overtel's influence as a threat to his ideals. Belmondo responded to this by forming the Belmondo Foundation in the early 2100s to protect his ideals after he resigned from the Race Commission.
In 2132, Overtel finally managed to seize control of the F7200 AG Race Commission from the Belmondo Foundation following Pierre Belmondo's death in 2127. Since then, Overtel would evolve the sport to become "better for the spectators watching." In 2152, Overtel announced that the league would be upgraded to the F9000 specification, and held a public contest for the selection of race tracks for the league. The first F9000 League season was contested in 2156 to worldwide acclaim.
As the competition went on, however, the sport increasingly turned into business ground for interested parties. Once-proud teams, such as Piranha and Van-Über, had become virtual pawns in one humongous game of business. Numerous resistance organizations were formed to protest the direction AG racing was going in, most notably the Anti-Gravity Purity Coalition. Formed in 2162, the Coalition coordinated numerous publicity stunts in an attempt to undermine all of those involved with the F9000. League participants and sponsors were common targets, and this became more common toward the late 2160s. Among them was a web campaign to stop the construction project of a racetrack in London that would have centered around the landmarks of the city.
The F9000 has also faced some controversies, such as the 2164 incident at Temtesh Bay, where extremely powerful missiles with enhanced explosive power (believed to have been FEISAR's "Super Missile" super weapon) were used on the first lap at the track's medium course. The resulting explosion caused the collapse and cave-in of the underground mining area, leading to many people being trapped inside for days, the death of six pilots and later the withdrawal of three surviving pilots. It is widely believed that this incident started the cause for distrust, and the descent of the F9000 as a whole.
In 2168, following their F9000 League championship victory, which also saw their lead pilot Pascale Rouser win the pilot's championship, Auricom withdrew from the F9000, citing the corruption of the League. The state of the F9000 League was left in uncertainty as a result of this shock withdrawal. To make matters worse, Piranha followed suit during the 2169 season out of the soaring expenses of the League. After the 2169 season, Van-Über announced their withdrawal from the F9000 in protest of race-fixing schemes within the League that went unpunished, leading the League closer to its doom.
October 2170: Exposure of Corruption
- "I knew that day would come at some point. The instant I spotted the news on the screens, I opened the channel to my team and asked ‘Is this what I think it is?’ When they replied in the affirmative, I felt a wave of emotion rush over me. I eased off the power, opened the air brakes, coasted to a stop and began to cry. They were not tears of joy or sadness, but tears of relief. Relief that it was finally over.
As I sat in my ship on the grid, those moments of eerie silence seemed to last for an age, then the crowds began booing and jeering. At the same time, the trouble started to break out – like the opening of some giant floodgate of anger, and our world went from one of peace to one of anarchy."
– F9000 championship-winning AG racing pilot Natasha Belmondo, recounting the revelation of corruption within the F9000 Race Commission
In October 2170, several members of the Anti-Gravity Purity Coalition had hacked into the database of the F9000 Race Commission and lifted terabytes of confidential data before they were discovered. Among those files were the details of corruption, deception, illegal business practices, and even murder, spanning the entire history of Overtel. The Coalition made these documents public before the start of the penultimate race of the F9000 season. Crowds stopped in their tracks and gazed in awe at the revelations unfolding upon the giant screens in shopping malls, city centres, and airports around the world.
In the next few days, the F9000 League was suspended pending further investigation. Within hours of story breaking, many of Overtel's board members took the easy way out, mostly by committing suicide to avoid criminal charges that would have been laid against them. Those who opted not to do so were subsequently arrested by U.S. Marshals in a raid at the Overtel headquarters in New York City.
At the same time, a media firestorm was developing in the crossfire between companies exposed by the scandal. As involved parties were throwing accusations at each other, F9000 teams still competing and their controlling corporate sponsors desperately scrambled for the high ground. But for most, it was too little too late – angry mobs would besiege corporate HQs around the world in the following nights and days, requiring local military forces to move in and enforce martial law in several major cities.
The AG racing team that took the most devastating hit from the fallout was probably Tigron Enterprises. The company was run by a crime syndicate that had been in power in Russia since the late 2140s. In an investigation, Tigron was exposed as one of the main cohorts involved in the scandals with Overtel. After the company acquired Qirex in 2149, Tigron discovered all manner of illegal activities in which Overtel engaged while in control of Qirex. During the F9000 League, Tigron used this information to blackmail Overtel into allowing them to flout the rules, which was seen as going so far as to fix the races in the later years. Shortly after this revelation, Tigron was shut down and its properties abandoned. Subsequently, the disgruntled civilians revolted and overthrew the syndicate within the year.
G-Tech Systems was another company involved with Overtel's unlawful activities. Specifically, the company appeared to be financed, illicitly, by Overtel, through its various illegal operations. This was the result of their constant poor performance in each season they competed in the F9000 League, as well as their arrogance to continue in spite of repeated threats by their parent company to withdraw the team. An investigation discovered colossal financial irregularities in G-Tech's accounts. G-Tech eventually became financially crippled after starting to be deserted by its customers, and all its remaining resources were auctioned off once the company went out of business.
Other parties involved in the scandal subsequently dissolved or merged, or simply quit the scene and were never heard from again, mostly as a result of a financial recession coming after the fallout. Meanwhile, the remaining teams of the F9000 succeeded in surviving the fallout. EG-R and Xios merged to form EG-X. FEISAR, on the other hand, left the doomed league intact and distanced themselves from AG racing for the following decade.
The major fallout during the fall of the F9000, coupled with subsequent riots all over the world, had a devastating impact on world markets and the global economy. This shock led to a global recession that took years to stabilize, and many more to recover from.
Anti-Gravity racing would cease to exist for the following decade as the public had decided to do away with the sport altogether. In the 2180s, Anti-Gravity racing started to gather interest from curious hobbyists, which led to a variety of amateur racing events, set in temporary racetracks with restored AG racing craft. These amateur events proved successful in restoring the public interest in AG racing, and the Anti-Gravity Rebirth Festival was held at the Nevada desert in 2185 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Pierre Belmondo's historic flight. Professional AG racing would eventually return to its former glory in 2197 with the FX300 Anti-Gravity Racing League.