Russian F1 organizers say race stays despite WADA sanctions

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Mercesdes' Valtteri Bottas arrives on track during the F1 Grand Prix in Sochi, Russia, September 29, 2019. (Photo: VCG)

Russia's F1 Grand Prix in Sochi will not be affected by the country's four-year World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) ban for tampering with doping tests, the race's promoters said on Monday.

The sanctions include a four-year ban on Russia hosting major sporting events.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA), the governing body of F1, is International Olympic Committee-recognized and classified by WADA as a code signatory.

"The contract for holding the Russian round of the F1 World Championship was signed in 2010, long before the events investigated by WADA, and runs until 2025," said ROSGONKI, a company that organizes the F1 race in Sochi.

They pointed out that the race was entered on next year's calendar and said it would be "legally and technically impossible" to re-assign it elsewhere.

"We are confident that the F1 Russian Grand Prix will be held in 2020 and in the following years and invite everyone to Sochi — the ticket sales are in full swing," the statement added.

The race has been held since 2014 against a backdrop of Sochi's Winter Olympic facilities — Games now notorious for state-sponsored doping cover-ups.

Russia has been embroiled in doping scandals since a 2015 report commissioned by WADA found evidence of mass doping in Russian athletics.

The WADA executive committee acted on Monday after concluding that Moscow had planted fake evidence and deleted files linked to positive doping tests in laboratory data that could have helped identify drug cheats.