LONDON (Reuters) - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said on Friday it was checking whether the Haas Formula One team's new car livery complied with a ban on the Russian flag at world championship events.
U.S.-owned Haas has Russian potash producer Uralkali as its new title sponsor and presented on Thursday a white, blue and red car with the colours laid out on the front wing like a Russian flag.
"WADA is aware of this matter and is looking into it with the relevant authorities," said a spokeswoman.
Russian athletes are prevented by WADA sanctions from competing under the country's flag at "any World Championships organised or sanctioned by any signatory".
Formula One's governing body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA), is a WADA signatory.
A December ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) also stated that Russian athletes could not display publicly the country's flag on "clothes, equipment or other personal items".
Uralkali is owned by Russian billionaire Dmitry Mazepin whose son Nikita is making his debut for the team alongside Germany's Mick Schumacher, son of seven-times world champion Michael.
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner told reporters the livery had been drawn up already last year, before the CAS ruling.
"Obviously we cannot use the Russian flag as the Russian flag, but you can use colours on a car," he said.
"In the end, it's the athlete which cannot display the Russian flag and not the team. The team is an American team."
He said there had been discussions with the FIA on the subject.
Asked whether the FIA had approved it, he added: "I don't think they can approve it. It's WADA, it's not an FIA rule."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge)