Aprilia rider and one-time MotoGP race victor Andrea Iannone has been banned from the sport for 18 months following a positive test for steroid use at last November’s Malaysian Grand Prix. The ban will be enforced from December 17th, 2019 through June of 2021, meaning the Italian will miss all 2020 rounds (whenever the season does eventually re-start) as well as the first part of next season.
Iannone and Aprilia boss Massimo Rivola are stunned that FIM would uphold the ban despite the steroid having been allegedly consumed accidentally in contaminated meat. The FIM disciplinary hearing determined Iannone had indeed eaten contaminated meat, and absolved the rider of fault in the case, but upheld the 18-month ban regardless.
“The sentence leaves us baffled because of the penalty levied against Andrea, but also very satisfied in its motivations,” Rivola said. “The judges recognised Andrea’s complete good faith and unawareness of assuming the substance, confirming the food contamination argument. For this reason, the penalty imposed does not make any sense.”
The Aprilia boss also said he believes Andrea should have been acquitted of the charges, and will continue to support him until the ordeal is over. Iannone will appeal the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport with Rivola’s support, though the hearing has not been given a date.
In the meantime, Aprilia’s British test rider Bradley Smith has been standing in for Iannone during off-season testing and is expected to take over his place in Grands Prix once the season starts, if the #29 is not allowed to continue following the appeal.
If there is a silver lining in the 18 month ban, it’s unlikely that the sport will be back to normal and running Grands Prix regularly for much or all of the 2020 season, so Iannone will really only be missing a couple of races astride his Aprilia RS-GP.