Mazepin: Sanctions against Russian athletes is 'cancel culture'

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Former Haas driver Nikita Mazepin says he disagrees with the sanctions imposed on himself and other Russian athletes, calling the punishments "cancel culture".

Ahead of the start of the 2022 F1 season, in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Haas elected to terminate its contract with Mazepin and with title sponsor Uralkali, the fertilizer giant majority-owned by the driver's father, Russian oligarch Dmitry Mazepin.

Shortly after, Mazepin father and son were added to a list of individuals sanctioned by the European Union, due to the oligarch's status as "a member of the closest circle of Vladimir Putin".

Speaking from Moscow on Wednesday in an interview with the BBC's Stephen Sackur, the ex-F1 driver reiterated his opposition to the sanction which he vowed to fight.

"I don’t agree with being in the sanctions," he said. "I’ve said before I agree to fight it.

"Perhaps now is not the right time. If you look at the whole situation that is happening against athletes in the general case, it’s cancel culture against my country."

The 23-year-old steered clear of providing his personal view on the conflict in Ukraine or commenting on the alleged recent atrocities committed by Russian troops on Ukraine civilians.

But Mazepin appeared disconcerted by the latest news, revealing that speaking out publicly on the conflict could put him at "tremendous risk" in his home country.

"Stephen, I live in the same world as you, but you know it is very painful to watch that [war images] on many levels," he said.

"My feelings, they've obviously changed as a human being and as a person that wants to live in a very peaceful world.

"But I will be honest with you, I just see tremendous risks in saying anything at all about this case because I will never satisfy everyone. And therefore, I will keep myself publicly quiet."

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