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Albon set for full Thai flag usage as WADA plans reinstatement

Alex Albon is set to be able to fully use the Thai flag in Formula 1 this year as the World Anti-Doping Agency plans to reinstate Thailand.

Alexander Albon, Red Bull Racing

Alexander Albon, Red Bull Racing

Erik Junius

Last October, WADA announced that Thailand’s National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO) had been found to be non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code, leading to the implementation of sanctions.

The ruling from WADA at the time said the Thai flag could not be flown at “regional, continental or world championships, or events, organised by Major Event Organisations, other than at the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, for the next edition of that event or until reinstatement.”

Albon has raced under the Thai flag throughout his time in F1, holding dual nationality through his mother. While he would have been able to compete as a Thai athlete despite the sanctions, the flag could not have been flown in any official capacity under the ruling, such as on the podium.

But Albon is now set to enjoy full usage of the Thai flag in F1 this year as Thailand’s NADO is currently in the reinstatement process with WADA, with official confirmation expected to follow in due course.

It comes following updates to Thailand’s anti-doping laws to ensure it is compliant with WADA’s code. This will allow the Thai athletes competing in the Winter Olympics, which start this week in Beijing, to fly the national flag.

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The sanctions against Thailand were different to those applied to Russia, which have prevented Nikita Mazepin from racing as a Russian athlete in F1 since debuting in March 2021. Mazepin races under the Russian Automobile Federation, with the sanction against Russia set to expire in December 2022 following a two-year period.

Albon’s return to the F1 grid in 2022 with Williams, having spent last year serving as Red Bull’s test and reserve driver in support of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

Albon made his F1 debut in 2019 with Toro Rosso before joining the senior Red Bull squad mid-season, where he remained until the end of the 2020 campaign before being replaced by Perez.

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