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By Design: Doping Watchdog WADA to Probe Haas, Mazepin Over Alleged F1 'Russian Flag' Livery Breach

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has launched a probe of the Haas F1 racing team's livery amid concerns it had violated a two-year ban on Russians competing with the Russian flag, media reported on Friday.

The livery of the racing vehicle allegedly resembled the Russian flag and Haas's Nikita Mazepin is the only driver affected by the ban in 2021, according to Formula 1 News.

“WADA is aware of this matter and is looking into it with the relevant authorities,” the watchdog told Formula1News.co.uk in a statement on Friday.

The ban is based on WADA and US allegations of state-backed doping in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

But team principal Guenther Steiner stressed the design had been launched prior to the CAS ruling, adding the were confident the livery had not violated the 2014 ban.

“No, we didn’t circumvent anything. We came up with this livery already last year before all of this came out from WADA about the Russian flag," Steiner added.

Mazepin will not be allowed to race as a Russian athlete but rather a "neutral athlete from Russia", but has not disclosed how he will be classified.

"Obviously we cannot use the Russian flag as the Russian flag, but you can use colours on a car. In the end, it’s the athlete which cannot display the Russian flag and not the team. The team is an American team," Steiner added.

The news comes after CAS extended its ruling to the end of 2022 and forced the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) to pay $1.27m in expenses allegedly incurred by WADA due to the investigation.

Former US president Donald Trump also signed the Rodchenkov Act aimed at tackling alleged doping in international sports, sparking anger from Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in December.

The act would allow US courts to issue rulings on doping cases in international sporting events involving the US.

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