Under FIM-ordered suspension since December while a hearing was carried out, the Disciplinary Court has ruled that Iannone has now been banned from MotoGP racing for 18 months – a decision which has caused controversy among riders and teams.
Upholding his innocence from the start, which is backed not only by fans but by the Aprilia ranks, Iannone says he didn’t knowingly take the substance, drostanolone, but ingested it through eating meat in Malaysia from animals raised on steroids.
At the time, the Italian rider was disqualified from the Malaysian and Spanish rounds of the 2019 World Championship, and ordered to forfeit any medals, points and prizes. Now, this is set to continue, with his claims insufficient to be found not guilty under the World Anti-Doping Agency’s code.
Iannone has been imposed with a racing suspension for anti-doping infringement, beginning on 17th December 2019 (the date of the provisional suspension) until June 16th 2021, and will be appealing the decision in the hopes of reducing his sentence.
The Aprilia CEO, Massimo Rivola vows to support the MotoGP rider’s appeal, calling the ruling “absurd”. Meanwhile, Max Biaggi will also be standing with Iannone, throwing support behind the rider who he believes was “practically acquitted” and now unfairly punished for unintentional wrongdoing.
The double World Champion offered words of encouragement to Iannone, urging him to keep his head held high and remain focussed on the end goal, but acknowledges it must be hard to stay motivated with a lengthy ban.
“For any athlete who receives such a judgement, it is not only unpleasant but demotivating, it knocks you down, takes away your desire to do everything,”
As it stands, the duration of the ban means Iannone would be ruled out of the whole 2020 MotoGP season once underway, plus the first half of 2021. At the end of the year, his contract with Aprilia will come to an end, but the manufacturer has promised to support the rider over the accusation and throughout the uncertain period ahead.
“We at Aprilia are close to him and we hope it will be resolved for the best.”
In the meantime, test rider Bradley Smith is due to take Iannone’s place, once the season is reorganised following the coronavirus outbreak.