I've been told offhand that basic lands are always legal in every sanctioned format, as a special rule. This would mean that I could play a Wastes in a Standard deck, since they're basic lands.
However, the five "core" basic lands have also been reprinted in every set, and every sanctioned format allows at least one set. So they could be legal for that reason, not because of a specific rule—which would mean the Wastes would not be legal in Standard.
Which (if either) is correct? The Comprehensive Rules don't seem to cover format legality questions.