Nikita Mazepin sets up foundation for athletes banned for political reasons

Nikita Mazepin is set to become a campaigner for the rights of athletes barred from competition for "political reason" following his Formula 1 exit.

The Russian's contract was terminated by Haas earlier this month, before the team announced on Wednesday that it was bringing former driver Kevin Magnussen back to take his place.

Mazepin faced the axe after Uralkali, the Russian fertiliser firm co-owned by his father Dmitry, was cut as the team's title sponsor.

The money paying for his seat had disappeared, and so Mazepin was duly replaced having failed to make much of an impression during his one and only season as an F1 racer.

The 23-year-old has now announced that he will be setting up a new foundation which will support athletes who are cast out into the sporting wilderness over "political" issues.

"Today I'm announcing the creation of a foundation that will be devoted to helping athletes who, for political reasons out of their control, lose their ability to compete at the highest level," he said.

"It will be funded by Uralkali, using the money that had been intended for Formula 1 sponsorship this season."

Mazepin was angered by his sacking, and claimed that he had been treated unfairly by the team as he was willing to compete under a neutral flag, complying with FIA rules.

The Russian Paralympic team, which was banned from competing at the Beijing Games this month, is set to become one of the foundation's first clients.

But the racer went on to specify that help will be offered to athletes from all countries, not just Russia and Belarus.

"The foundation will allocate resources both financial and non-financial to those athletes who have spent their lives preparing for Olympics or Paralympics, or other top events, only to find that they were forbidden from competing and collectively punished just because of the passport they held," he added.

"This will include athletes from all conflict zones and our door is open to everybody. We will begin with the Paralympic team in Russia, which was banned from the Games in Beijing."

Also on Wednesday, Mazepin and his father were added to the list of high-profile Russians who face sanctions from the European Union.

In a document, it was revealed that Mazepin Snr had met with Vladimir Putin just hours after the invasion began on February 24.

The EU described this as proof that the businessman is part of the Russian leader's "close circle", and will also sanction Dmitry Mazepin's son because his racing career has benefitted from his cash.

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