On Monday, Russia was handed a four-year ban from all major sports by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for widespread breaching of doping regulations.
The ban, on athletes taking part in events and the country hosting contests, applies to all bodies that WADA considers to be a Major Event Organisation.
Motor racing’s governing body, the FIA, is classified as such in WADA documents, so events organised by it appear to fall under this jurisdiction.
According to a WADA statement, Russia is clear about the penalties handed down in terms of events.
It stated: “Russia may not host in the Four-Year Period or bid for or be granted in the Four-Year Period, the right to host (whether during or after the Four-Year Period) any editions of the Major Events.”
However, there is an exemption for events that have already been agreed – such as the Russian GP – and that may not be possible to cancel because of contractual clauses.
“Where the right to host a Major Event in the Four-Year Period has already been awarded to Russia, the Signatory must withdraw that right and re-assign the event to another country, unless it is legally or practically impossible to do so,” added WADA.
Russia has 21 days to appeal against the ban and, if it does so, the matter will then go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The Rosgonki company that organises the Russian GP has faith that there are no circumstances under which the race can be cancelled, as it has a firm contract in place.
A statement from the organisers given to Motorsport.com said: “The contract for the Russian round of the Formula 1 World Championship was signed back in 2010, long before the circumstances being investigated by WADA. It is valid until 2025, and the Russian round is included in the FIA international sports calendar for 2020.
“If, after an appeal, the WADA wording on the cancellation of a major event, provided that it is legally and practically possible, remains the same and refers to the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix, there is no legal and technical possibility to withdraw and reassign the Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix to another country.
“We are confident that the Russian Grand Prix will take place in 2020 and subsequent years. We invite everyone to Sochi and ticket sales are in full swing.”
Russian athletes who can prove that they were not implicated in the non-compliance of doping regulations are still allowed to compete in major events, but will not be allowed to use the Russian flag.
The FIA and F1 have been contacted for a comment regarding the implications of the WADA ban.