MotoGP rider Andrea Iannone banned from racing for 18 months
Andrea Iannone, the MotoGP pilot accused of doping, has today been banned from racing for 18 months, in a sentence handed down by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM)’s Disciplinary Court.
Iannone was suspended on December 17th, 2019, after being found positive for the performance-enhancing drug drostanolone in a test taken at the Malaysian MotoGP at Sepang on November 3rd. The anabolic steroid is reportedly used to increase strength while reducing weight, although Iannone claimed the positive test was the result of accidental food contamination.
The court considered Iannone’s argument, made at a previous hearing, for which the defence put together a 100-page document, claiming that he tested positive to the prohibited substance as a result of eating meat from animals raised on steroids. They produced the results of a voluntary hair sample test, which showed no sign of steroids.
However, while conceding that he did not take the substance intentionally, the judges found him guilty of doping under the World Anti-Doping Agency’s code and imposed an 18-month suspension on the Italian, from on 17th December 2019 (the date of the Provisional Suspension) until June 16th 2021.
He was also disqualified from the Malaysian and Spanish rounds of the 2019 FIM Grand Prix World Championship, held in November, and ordered to forfeit any medals, points and prizes. However, due to the mitigating circumstances, he avoided the more severe automatic four-year-ban for ingestion of steroids that the prosecution had originally sought.
Iannone has always upheld his innocence and will be appealing the decision of the FIM court to the Court of Arbitration in Sport, in an effort to reduce his sentence.
With his contract due to expire at the end of this year, and the ban preventing him from racing until he will be at least 32, this could well mark the end of Iannone’s MotoGP career.
However, despite previously stating that a long ban would result in the termination of Iannone’s contract with Aprilia, Gresini Racing CEO Massimo Rivola today released a statement supporting him.
“The sentence leaves us baffled by the punishment imposed on Andrea, but also very satisfied in his motivations,” Rivola said.
“The judges recognised Andrea's total good faith and unconsciousness in confirming the thesis of food contamination. For this reason, the penalty imposed does not make any sense.
“In light of the reasons written by the judges, Andrea should have been acquitted, as has always happened to the other contaminated athletes. But this picture leaves us with much hope for the appeal, which we hope will be very fast. We want Andrea riding his Aprilia RS-GP, we will be at his side until the end of this story and we will support him in his appeal.”