Andrea Iannone Handed 18-Month Doping Ban By FIM CDI, Will Appeal To The CAS

The International Disciplinary Court of the FIM has reached a decision at last. Andrea Iannone has been found guilty of having a banned substance in his bloodstream, and suspended from competition for 18 months. The ban is backdated to December 17th, 2019, meaning that Iannone will be eligible to compete from the 16th June 2021.

The ban of 18 months is a reduction from the maximum allowed by the rules of 4 years, and an acknowledgement that Iannone did not ingest the banned substance - anabolic steroid drostanolone - with intent. According to a press release from Aprilia the court accepted that drostanolone ended up in Iannone's urine sample due to food contamination.

But the court ruled that, as the FIM anti-doping rules clearly state, riders are responsible for everything that enters their body, and they have a duty to avoid anything which might cause accidental contamination. That includes being aware that products that appear on the FIM list of banned substances are used in the production of meat in certain parts of the world. Iannone's defense that he ingested drostanolone accidentally, while eating steak during the Pacific flyaways, was not considered sufficient.

Iannone will now appeal to the CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport. But the current outbreak of the coronavirus is likely to hamper the progress of any appeal. The CAS has suspended all in-person hearings until May 1st, and with the outbreak still spreading in Switzerland, further delays are quite possible. Getting a hearing before he has served a large part of his disqualification period may prove difficult.

Aprilia have committed to standing behind Iannone. In a press release, Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola pointed to the court's finding that Iannone had not intentionally ingested the banned substance, and expressed surprise that this did not result in Iannone being cleared completely.

"The judges recognised Andrea’s complete good faith and unawareness of assuming the substance, confirming the food contamination argument," Rivola stated. "For this reason, the penalty imposed does not make any sense. In light of the motivations written by the judges themselves, Andrea should have been acquitted, as has always occurred to other contaminated athletes, but this situation leaves us a lot of hope for the appeal which we hope will be very quick. We want Andrea back on his Aprilia RS-GP. We will be by his side all the way to the end of this matter and we will support him in his appeal."

Despite Aprilia's expression of support, what this means for Iannone's career is uncertain. Under normal circumstances, an 18-month ban would mean he would be unlikely to return to MotoGP. But the COVID-19 outbreak has shaken things up considerably, making everything uncertain.

Even if racing only starts very late in 2020, it will be difficult for Iannone to find a seat in MotoGP. By the time he will be eligible to race again, he will be almost 32 years old. And becoming eligible in June 2021 means that most of the seats will already be occupied by riders with two-year contracts for 2021 and 2022. Anyone signing Iannone for the 2022 season will be taking a major gamble that Iannone still has the motivation and the ability to compete. They will be choosing between an unknown quantity in Iannone with a relatively short remaining shelf life, and a young Moto2 rider with potential to be a long-term star.

The official FIM press release, containing the judgment from the CDI, and a corresponding press release from Aprilia appear below:


FIM Anti-doping
FIM Grand Prix World Championship

FIM International Disciplinary Court (CDI) imposes 18 months suspension on MotoGP Rider Andrea Iannone

The FIM International Disciplinary Court (CDI) handed down on 31 March 2020 a decision imposing a period of ineligibility of eighteen months on Italian MotoGP Rider Mr. Andrea Iannone, commencing on 17 December 2019 (i.e. the effective date of the Provisional Suspension) and which shall end on 16 June 2021.

Following a routine In-Competition doping test conducted at the round of the FIM Grand Prix World Championship held in Sepang, Malaysia on 3 November 2019, Mr. Andrea Iannone tested positive for Drostanolone metabolite 2α-methyl-5α-androstane-3α-ol-17-one, a WADA prohibited substance under heading “S1. Anabolic Agents, 1. Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS), a. Exogenous AAS” of the FIM Anti-doping Code.

Following notification of his adverse analytical finding Mr. Iannone was provisionally suspended by the FIM since 17 December 2019.

A hearing before the CDI on the merits of the case was held in Mies (Switzerland) on 4 February 2020. At the end of the hearing the CDI panel decided to suspend the hearing pending the additional and final written submissions of the parties (i.e. 28 February 2020).

Mr. Iannone is disqualified from Round 18 of the 2019 FIM Grand Prix World Championship held on November 1-3, 2019, in Sepang (Malaysia) and Round 19 of the 2019 FIM Grand Prix World Championship held on November 15-17, 2019, in Valencia (Spain) with all of the resulting consequences including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.

An appeal against the CDI decision may be lodged before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland within 21 days from the date of receipt of the CDI decision pursuant to Article 13.7of the FIM Anti-doping Code.


FIM SENTENCE - FOOD CONTAMINATION ARGUMENT ADMITTED BUT ANDREA IANNONE SUSPENDED FOR EIGHTEEN MONTHS

MASSIMO RIVOLA: “ABSURD PENALTY, IT’S A SENTENCE THAT EVEN ACKNOWLEDGES IANNONE’S INNOCENCE. WE WANT ANDREA BACK IN THE SADDLE AND WE’LL SUPPORT HIM IN HIS APPEAL TO THE CAS”

Aprilia Racing acknowledges the FIM measure that imposes an eighteen-month disqualification for rider Andrea Iannone.

Upon initial analysis of the sentence, it is satisfying to see how the total absence of intention was recognised and the accidental nature of the assumption of steroids, in fact recognising the argument of food contamination, something that had never before occurred. This scenario opens up new possibilities of appeal for Andrea Iannone, but the puzzlement remains for a penalty that is entirely inconsistent with the reconstruction contained in the sentence itself which recognises in the facts, albeit without acquitting him, Andrea Iannone’s innocence.

In observance of the sports values which have always inspired our operations and which outline zero tolerance for any practices prohibited by the regulations, Aprilia Racing has always reiterated our complete faith in our rider and we do so now with renewed emphasis after this sentence and we will support him in his appeal to the CAS.

MASSIMO RIVOLA - APRILIA RACING CEO

"The sentence leaves us baffled because of the penalty levied against Andrea, but also very satisfied in its motivations. 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. In light of the motivations written by the judges themselves, Andrea should have been acquitted, as has always occurred to other contaminated athletes, but this situation leaves us a lot of hope for the appeal which we hope will be very quick. We want Andrea back on his Aprilia RS-GP. We will be by his side all the way to the end of this matter and we will support him in his appeal.”

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Comments

It's going to be hard for Bradley to hide his excitement over this unfortunate news ;-)   His only enemy now is COVID... and time.

He got lucky w a light sentence. The court was the only one here that ingested something shady w his excuse. Perhaps an appropriate amount of time regardless of the rest?

Looking forward to A.Espargaro and whomever they hire for 2021 on that all new Aprilia.

Hang in there in isolation and waiting folks, our collective ban will indeed end.

Personally, I disagree.  I think the sentence is overly harsh in light of the judges coming to the same conclusion; that it was a one-time, accidental ingestion from comtaminated meat.  Banning him from the first 3 or 4 races would have been more than sufficient punishment, in my opinion.  It would certainly do the best part of ruining any championship hopes he had for this season (on a bike which is finally showing some real promise).  What they're doing instead is effectively ending his MotoGP career.

I've never actually liked Iannone, and he's certainly made several career-damaging mistakes all on his own.  But, of course, justice shouldn't be about who we like and don't like, but about basic fairness.  I think performance enhancing drugs should be taken very, very seriously - but also I think that intent, and how much advantage such an accidental ingestion is likely to provide, should also be considered in his punishment.  I've certainly seen things like "accidently" out of spec fuel punished much less harshly.

Rossi's "oops, was that illegal?" grid washing incident in Qatar years ago put him at the back of the grid for that one race.  Marquez rode like a selfish idiot on a practice cool-down lap and actually put one of his competitors in the hospital, and he too was puunished with one race start from the back of the grid.  Not trying to parse the basic fairness, or lack-there-of, in each of these incidents - nor really even compare them.  They just kind of reenforce the sense I have - looking at the broader history of crime and punishment in MotoGP - that Iannone's punishment doesn't quite fit the crime.

Personally, I disagree.  I think the sentence is overly harsh in light of the judges coming to the same conclusion; that it was a one-time, accidental ingestion from comtaminated meat.  Banning him from the first 3 or 4 races would have been more than sufficient punishment, in my opinion.  It would certainly do the best part of ruining any championship hopes he had for this season (on a bike which is finally showing some real promise).  What they're doing instead is effectively ending his MotoGP career.

I've never actually liked Iannone, and he's certainly made several career-damaging mistakes all on his own.  But, of course, justice shouldn't be about who we like and don't like, but about basic fairness.  I think performance enhancing drugs should be taken very, very seriously - but also I think that intent, and how much advantage such an accidental ingestion is likely to provide, should also be considered in his punishment.  I've certainly seen things like "accidently" out of spec fuel punished much less harshly.

Rossi's "oops, was that illegal?" grid washing incident in Qatar years ago put him at the back of the grid for that one race.  Marquez rode like a selfish idiot on a practice cool-down lap, actually putting one of his competitors in the hospital, and he too was puunished with one race start from the back of the grid.  Not trying to parse the basic fairness, or lack-there-of, in each of these incidents - nor really even compare them.  They just kind of reenforce the sense I have - looking at the broader history of crime and punishment in MotoGP - that Iannone's punishment doesn't quite fit the crime.

Frank Blank, agree with all you said. Well articulated.

The central points I see aren't that he was found innocent but that he was not found guilty of knowingly taking it, and that substance isn't ever in meat. Like round the chances off to zero. They aren't agreeing he accidentally ate it in meat, nor "proving" that he took it.

First offense max on doping 4 yrs is way too high. 18 mos is a bit long. Half a season sounds to be about right to me.

I like Iannone racing. It is frustrating that he only sometimes does. Dumb of the self-involved variety ...unfortunate. And his normal.

If Ianonne took banned substances WITH intent then he's guilty of doing a bad job because he got caught, the vast majority don't get caught.

If WADA found a trace amount, as suggested, and accept that that amount could have been ingested without knowledge then i cant see how they can ruin a career and the earnings that would go with it.

Is this a case of keeping the image of the sport free from drugs because it might have been accidental and at the same time punishing an abvious offender ? 18 month AND and accepting it may have been ingested without knowledge just doesn't add up.

If you hit someone in your car because they just step out in front of you, it's not your fault. For sure, in a perfect world there are things you could possibly have done to avoid it, but laws and rules don't expect perfection. Conversely, if you're doing 60mph in a 40mph zone and the same happens, it's you'll probably be punished.

i can't see how the court can say they recognise it was accidental but still find him guilty. That sounds like they're saying they do in fact think he's guilty but, because he's put up a pretty plausible defence, can't prove it but are punishing him anyway. (Got distracted and posted unfinished...). Which seems hugely unlikely so, whatever Iannone himself says, it seems a heck of a lot more likely that he's in the 60mph bracket and is paying the price.

 

Where I come from, you'd in most instances be liable for hitting a person who steps out in front of your car -- you must be able to stop before any "foreseeable obstacle".

But to the point: The rulebook states that all banned substances are illegal, regardless of how it ended up in your body. A four-year ban is the standard, which might be cut down to two years if it's deemed accidental.

Where the CDI found the 18-month-punishment, I don't know. I can't remember anything other than four or two years in the book. Except for substances like cocaine, cannabis etc. which if I remember correctly is only illegal if it is taken close to competition, as a performance enhancer.

Let us not forget that there's a very, very slim chance that drostanolone actually did end up in Iannones body by accident. On the far end of plausible, not any way near probable.

All that said, roadracing anti-doping rules are in urgent need of an overhaul -- as is now, the same rules applies to almost any sport on the globe. But as we all know, roadracing (or any two-wheeled sport for that matter) isn't much like football, or the sports of running fast, jumping high etcetera etcetera.

There's a reason why FIM doesn't test nearly as much as other organizations do -- they simply can't, or we'd quickly run out of riders on the grid.

Anyway, I'm sure we'll see Iannone back on track. GP or SBK.

Cheers, stay safe and F*** the SARS!

I've always wondered how drug testing fitted with bike racing, in so far that half the grid must be on a variety of things at every race just to be able to bear the pain of their current injuries. I don't know what is and isn't allowed - don't care much to be honest - but I'd have thought there must be some overlap between therapeutic and performance enhancing substances, not to mention that a massive dose of painkillers of itself enables better performance.

In Iannones case it'll all come out in the course of time I guess.