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Gresini Confirm Independent Team Status In 2022

The first step toward the 2022 MotoGP grid has taken place. With a new five-year contract period between Dorna, the manufacturers, and IRTA as representative of the teams starting in 2022, grid slots are open for application once again. Gresini Racing, led by Fausto Gresini, is to separate from Aprilia and become an independent team once again, they announced in a press release.

It is no secret that Gresini was to become independent, as both Fausto Gresini and Aprilia have spoken about it openly. The press release merely makes official what was already known. The partnership between Gresini and Aprilia had been a marriage of convenience from the start, a stepping stone to allow the Noale factory to return to MotoGP in 2015 without setting up major infrastructure. That was why Aprilia was still regarded as an independent team, rather than a full-factory effort, for the purpose of the Independent Team Standings.

Though the press release reveals no details of Gresini's future plans, the team has been in extended talks to run as a Suzuki satellite team. The VR46 team, which is also expected to become a full-time MotoGP operation in 2022, is also a candidate for the Suzuki bikes, should they become available. But there is also an option that Gresini continue with Aprilia as a satellite operation, alongside Aprilia's own full-factory team.

Gresini is one of a number of changes expected to take place in 2022. As mentioned, the VR46 team is expected to become a full-time two-bike MotoGP effort, taking over the slots from the Esponsorama (formerly Avintia) team. VR46 will be making their debut from the 2021 season, where they are running Luca Marini in the Esponsorama team aboard a Ducati Desmosedici GP19.

Beyond that, there may be some changes in the bikes which independent teams will be running. Gresini and VR46 have been linked to Suzuki, as have Petronas, who are rumored to be looking to switch from Yamaha to Suzuki. If the Yamaha satellite bikes are vacated, then VR46 would be almost certain to take over those machines. Aprilia are also interested in having a satellite team, though whether an independent team would be interested in running Aprilia RS-GP machines unless they were heavily subsidized is open to question. All six MotoGP manufacturers have stated their intention to remain, barring unforeseen circumstances.

2022 is a key date in MotoGP racing because Dorna runs its contracts on a five-year cycle. Dorna signs contracts with manufacturers and teams for a five-year period, to ensure the continuity of the sport. In return, Dorna subsidize the teams and factories during that period, to give them the best chance of survival for the duration of the contract.

Below is the press release from Gresini announcing their plans for 2022:


GRESINI RACING: FROM 2022, THE MOTOGP PROJECT IS REALITY

As a pleasant confirmation for an institution as solid as historical within MotoGP, from 2022 Gresini Racing will be again in the premier class as Independent team.

The team led by Fausto Gresini, which is already present across all categories of the MotoGP World Championship, is back to its natural spot and will be relying on its own support only. A five-year agreement was signed between Gresini Racing and IRTA (2022-2026), a further proof of the commitment by the Faenza-based team.

Gresini Racing has been present in the premier class since 1997 and therefore is among the longest-lasting teams and one with a very solid tally: 41 podiums, 14 wins and three runner-up spots in the category.

FAUSTO GRESINI – TEAM MANAGER GRESINI RACING

“We’re happy to announce this agreement with IRTA, which will see us in MotoGP for five years starting from 2022. We will not be representing Aprilia as a factory team anymore, so we will continue as an Independent Team, doing so with as much will and commitment. There’s a lot of work to do and many things to define and communicate. Obviously we’re already working on this huge project, and we will reveal the details little by little. Stay tuned!”

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Marc Marquez Still In Hospital, Infection Found During Surgery

Marc Marquez is to remain in hospital in Madrid after surgery on his right arm. The Spaniard had an operation to attach a plate and a bone graft to promote bone growith on the humerus he fractures at Jerez. A sample was taken of the fractured bone, and that showed signs of infection. That is not uncommon in non-union fractures such as that suffered by Marquez. The Repsol Honda rider is being treated with antibiotics for the infection.

The press release from Honda appears below:


Update on Marc Marquez

Marc Marquez’s post-operative clinical situation has been deemed satisfactory by his medical team at the Hospital Ruber Internacional, in Madrid. However, the cultures obtained during the pseudarthrosis surgery have confirmed that there was a previous infection in the fracture, which will see Marquez undergo specific antibiotic treatment in the coming weeks.

Marquez will remain at the Hospital Ruber Internacional, in Madrid.

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Marc Marquez Has Third Surgery To Fix Non-Union Fracture Of Right Arm Broken In Jerez

Marc Márquez has had a third operation on the fractured right humerus he injured at the opening round at Jerez, and then broke again some ten days later. After many hours of speculation, the Repsol Honda team issued a press release confirming earlier reports that the Spaniard had undergone an operation at the Clinica Ruber in Madrid, to fit a new plate and take a bone graft from his hip to promote bone growth. The third operation was deemed necessary after the fracture has failed to heal as quickly as hoped.

Márquez' woes began at the first MotoGP race of the 2020 season at Jerez, after the Repsol Honda rider ran wide at Turn 4 and rode through the gravel on lap 5, and lost 9 seconds as a result. The Spaniard rejoined, and then set about slicing his way through the field, eventually ending up in third place and hot on the heels of Maverick Viñales.

It all went wrong again for Márquez on the exit of Turn 3. The rear of Márquez' Honda RC213V stepped out, bit, and flicked him off into the gravel on the outside of the corner. As he tumbled through the gravel, the front wheel of his Honda smashed into his right arm, breaking his humerus.

Márquez was lined up for surgery on the Tuesday after the first Jerez round, and by the following day was sending videos to his team of himself doing pushups on his freshly plated arm. He persuaded Honda and his team to try to race at Jerez 2, and was passed fit to try by the circuit medical staff.

That turned out to be a bad idea. Márquez sat out all of Friday, and rode in FP3, posting a respectable time just 1.3 seconds off the pace of Maverick Viñales. But in FP4, he felt a sudden tweak in his arm, and realized he was unable to continue. He withdrew, in the hope of being fit to race two weeks later at Brno.

Márquez' hopes were dashed a week later, when he got up to open a heavy sliding glass door to let his dogs out of his house, and felt something move inside the arm. He was taken to hospital, where scans revealed that the plate inserted had failed to unite the bone fragments, which had separated again.

Since then, Márquez has had scans on his arm every week to monitor progress on his arm, but the fracture has failed to heal properly, creating what is known as a non-union fracture. Márquez has put off a third operation to treat this problem for as long as possible, in the hope that the arm would heal of its own accord. But that has failed to happen.

Márquez finally opted for further surgery at the beginning of the month, with a specialist clinic in Madrid performing the surgery. The operation removed the old plate and replaced it with a new one, and took a bone graft from his hip to promote bone growth. This operation has proven to be very successful in the case of a non-union fracture, as the bone taken from the crest of the hip has a lot of blood vessels running through it and very strongly promotes the growth of new bone. It is often used in cases where bone growth has been much slower than expected.

Though the success rate for the procedure used for Marc Márquez is high, he still faces a long recovery period. Typical recovery period for a non-union fracture of the humerus treated with corticoperiosteal free flap is six months, though that can vary from between 3 and 12 months. That would mean that Márquez is extremely likely to miss the Sepang test scheduled for the middle of February, and potentially the start of the 2021 season, due to kick off at Qatar on March 28th.

That, of course, presupposes that the provisionally scheduled 2021 test and race calendars can go ahead as planned. Given the experience of 2020 with the Covid-19 pandemic, there are good reasons to believe the first part of the season may be disrupted or rescheduled, until the European winter spike in Covid-19 cases eases off, and the effects of vaccination programs start to kick in. Any delay or rescheduling would give Marc Márquez additional time for his recovery.

If Márquez is forced to miss the first few races of the season, the Repsol Honda team will once again be forced to look for a replacement until the eight-time world champion is able to race again. Stefan Bradl would naturally be a candidate, but there is a good chance that Honda might turn to Andrea Dovizioso. The Italian had been in extended talks with HRC for a role as test rider and replacement in the case of injury, but those talks had failed when the two parties had been unable to come to terms. But with a role as a straight replacement rider, there would be fewer complications putting Dovizioso on the Repsol bike.

All that is still some way in the future, however. First Marc Márquez and Honda will have to wait to see how his recovery progresses. That will take at least a month, and possibly more, before the speed of his recovery can be assessed.

The Repsol Honda press release announcing the surgery appears below:


Marc Marquez undergoes a new operation

Marc Marquez has undergone a new operation on his right arm as a result of the slow healing of the humerus bone, which has not improved with specific shock wave treatment.

Today the rider has undergone surgery at the Hospital Ruber Internacional, in Madrid, for a pseudarthrosis of the right humerus.

The surgery, carried out by a team made up of doctors Samuel Antuña, Ignacio Roger de Oña, Juan de Miguel, Aitor Ibarzabal and Andrea Garcia Villanueva, consisted of the removal of the previous plate and the placement of a new plate with the addition of an iliac crest bone graft with a corticoperiosteal free flap.

The surgical procedure lasted for eight hours and was uneventful.


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2021 WorldSBK Provisional Calendar - European Start To Season, Overseas Finish, Indonesia Provisionally Added

The FIM today published the preliminary and provisional calendar for the WorldSBK championship for the 2021 season. Like all aspects of international events, it is very much a provisional affair, subject to local and regional restrictions on movement and events in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The biggest change to the season is the rescheduling of the Philip Island round of WorldSBK. Instead of being the opening race of the season, it is now due to take place in the second half of November, with a date still to confirmed. Travel to Australia is still nigh on impossible, but the hope is that restrictions will look very different by the end of 2021, as vaccines start to be rolled out.

Moving Phillip Island to November means that the 2021 WorldSBK calendar is set to kick off in The Netherlands in Assen, with all three classes starting their seasons at the first round. The WorldSBK paddock then moves around Europe for the summer, with a race every two to three weeks up until the British round at Donington Park, due to be held at the start of July. Only the World Superbike class will be racing at Donington, with no information as to which other series will be racing there as support classes.

The WorldSBK season resumes two months later at Magny-Cours in France in early September, before heading south to Barcelona, then Jerez, and then Portimao. The Portuguese round - the second race in the country, with Estoril scheduled for May - will be the final race in Europe, before the WorldSBK and WorldSSP classes head overseason.

First port of call is San Juan Villicum in Argentina, before heading west again to the new Mandalika circuit in Indonesia, once that track has been completed and homologated. There have been few updates on the progress of the track, especially given how severely the tourism sector in Indonesia has been hit, but the Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation has promised the track will be ready by November. After Indonesia, the WorldSBK paddock heads to Australia and Phillip Island.

The thirteenth and final round of WorldSBK is as yet unconfirmed, but believed to be planned for the Middle East. Qatar is one option, though the track is also due to be resurfaced, which could mean WorldSBK makes its debut in Bahrein.

As stated before, this calendar is very much a provisional affair, and extremely likely to change. It is not yet clear which races will be open to fans, and anyone wishing to book travel and accommodation should make sure they have free cancellation or insurance to cover the cost of cancellation or change. But the world may look very different in three months time, once vaccination starts.

The provisional calendar appears below:


MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship/FIM Supersport and Supersport 300 World Championships

2021 Provisional* calendar, 30 November 2020

DATE COUNTRY CIRCUIT WorldSBK WorldSSP WorldSSP300
23 - 25 April The Netherlands TT Circuit Assen X X X
7 – 9 May Portugal Circuito Estoril** X X X
21 - 23 May Spain MotorLand Aragón X X X
11 - 13 June Italy Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” X X X
2 - 4 July United Kingdom Donington Park X    
3 - 5 September France Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours X X X
17 - 19 September Spain Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya X X X
24 - 26 September Spain Circuito de Jerez - Ángel Nieto X X X
1 - 3 October Portugal Autódromo Internacional do Algarve X X X
15 – 17 October Argentina Circuito San Juan Villicum X X  
12 – 14 November Indonesia Mandalika International Street Circuit*** X X  
STC Australia Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit** X X  
TBA TBA TBA**** X X  

*All dates, events and the attendance of spectators are subject to the evolution of the global pandemic and the approval of the corresponding governments and authorities.
** (STC) Subject to contract / *** (STH) Subject to homologation /**** (TBA) Venue/event/date to be announced

2021 SUPPORTED TEST - Championship Filming and Photo-shoot season opening

  • 29 - 30 March: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya - WorldSSP & WorldSSP300
  • 31 March - 1 April: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya - WorldSBK
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2021 MotoGP Provisional MotoGP Rider Line Up Complete: Aprilia To Choose Between Savadori And Smith After Testing

The 2021 MotoGP grid is finally complete. Or complete-ish, anyway. Aprilia have finally made a decision on their second rider for 2021, and their decision is that they will decide after the winter tests at Sepang and Qatar have finished.

Both Lorenzo Savadori and Bradley Smith have been signed for 2021, to fill the roles of second contracted MotoGP rider alongside Aleix Espargaro, and MotoGP test rider. Smith and Savadori will run through the testing program, including private tests and the scheduled official tests at Sepang and Qatar in February and March, and Aprilia will make their decision based on the outcome of that, Aprilia said in a press release.

Aprilia have been forced into this position by their decision to stick with Andrea Iannone throughout his appeals process. Once the Italian lost his appeal against his suspension for doping, Aprilia were forced to look elsewhere, but by that time, there choices were severely limited. Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow had turned down the opportunity. Aprilia had talks with WorldSBK rider Chaz Davies and Joe Roberts, Marco Bezzecchi, and Fabio Di Giannantonio in Moto2. But all those options fell through too, Roberts the last to turn down the Aprilia ride, informing the Italian factory on Sunday night.

The best solution, Aprilia decided, was to continue the project as they had started at the beginning of the year, sticking with their three current riders, and putting one of their test riders in the second seat. Aprilia intend to expand the number of bikes on the grid to 4 in 2022, once the new five-year contract period for factories and teams in MotoGP commences, so doing this opens up perspectives. The idea is to set up a system like Ducati, with a junior satellite team feeding into the factory squad, giving young riders a chance to learn and find their feet in MotoGP.

The MotoGP rider line up for 2021 appears below:

Rider Bike Contract until
Monster Energy Yamaha
Maverick Viñales Yamaha M1 2022
Fabio Quartararo Yamaha M1 2022
     
Repsol Honda
Marc Márquez Honda RC213V 2024
Pol Espargaro Honda RC213V 2022
     
Suzuki Ecstar
Alex Rins Suzuki GSX-RR 2022
Joan Mir Suzuki GSX-RR 2022
     
Ducati Factory
Jack Miller Ducati Desmosedici GP21 2021 (option for 2022)
Pecco Bagnaia Ducati Desmosedici GP21 2022
     
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Aleix Espargaro Aprilia RS-GP 2022
Lorenzo Savadori/Bradley Smith* Aprilia RS-GP 2022
     
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Brad Binder KTM RC16 2021
Miguel Oliveira KTM RC16 2021
     
Red Bull KTM Tech3
Danilo Petrucci KTM RC16 2021
Iker Lecuona KTM RC16 2021
     
Petronas Yamaha SRT
Franco Morbidelli Yamaha M1 2022
Valentino Rossi Yamaha M1 2021
     
Pramac Ducati
Jorge Martin Ducati Desmosedici GP21 2022
Johann Zarco Ducati Desmosedici GP21 2021 (option for 2022)
     
LCR Honda
Alex Márquez Honda RC213V 2022
Takaaki Nakagami Honda RC213V 2022
     
Avintia Ducati
Luca Marini Ducati GP19 2021
Enea Bastianini Ducati GP19 2021

* To be decided after preseason testing is complete in February/March

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Valentino Rossi Cleared To Race In Valencia After Narrow Escape With Covid-19 Test

Valentino Rossi had a narrow escape this week, after initially failing another Covid-19 test. The Italian produced two more negative tests, and has been cleared to race at the Valencia round of MotoGP.

The Italian had flown back to Italy on Sunday night, and on Tuesday had a PCR test. That test came back positive with a very low viral load, a result which can occur with people who have had Covid-19 and have had symptoms. Rossi's doctors recommended he do two more tests, and after the first test came back negative, he flew to Valencia to wait for the results of the second test taking 24 hours later. When that test came back negative, he was cleared to race.

A positive Covid-19 test is the one thing the riders fighting for the championship have feared. Joan Mir, who tested negative earlier this week, arranged to limit his exposure as much as possible. He asked his girlfriend to get a PCR test, and only drove back home when it came back negative. He then isolated at home before driving back to Valencia, avoiding contact.

The press release from Yamaha on Valentino Rossi's test appears below:


VALENTINO ROSSI‘S PARTICIPATION CONFIRMED FOR THE VALENCIA GP

Valencia (Spain), 12th November 2020

Today, Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi received confirmation that he will be able to take part in this weekend‘s Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana. Following a marginally positive PCR test on Tuesday 10th November, the Italian had two further PCR tests done (on Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th November), both of which came back negative for the Covid-19 virus.

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP are delighted to confirm that Valentino Rossi will be able to take part in this weekend‘s Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana.

Following a weakly positive PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test result received on Tuesday 10th November, Valentino Rossi had to have two further PCR tests done (on Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th November), as per FIM regulations, in order to be allowed to take part in the upcoming Valencia GP. Both follow-up tests came back negative for the Covid-19 virus, confirming Rossi‘s attendance for this race weekend.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

  • On Tuesday 10th November, Rossi underwent the usual PCR test, which is compulsory for those who visit their homes in between races. The result of this first test became available the next day and it was reported as “positive with very low viral load”. The doctors recommended Rossi to take two more tests, separated by 24 hours.
  • On Wednesday 11th November, Rossi took a second PCR test, of which the result came back negative this morning (Thursday 12th November).
  • This morning (Thursday 12th November), Rossi took a third PCR test at home and then travelled to Valencia, Spain, where he self-isolated while waiting for the result. It was again negative, allowing Rossi to reunite with the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team and take part in this weekend‘s Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana.
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Andrea Dovizioso Officially Announces He Is Taking A Sabbatical

Andrea Dovizioso has confirmed he will be taking a sabbatical after the end of the 2020 season. As reported on Monday, the Italian has rejected multiple offers to be a test rider, in favor of a year of racing motocross and hoping for a better project in 2022. Below is the post he made announcing the move on Instagram:

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

🇬🇧 THIS IS WHAT I'M GOING TO DO IN 2021 Over the last few months, I have received several offers to work as a test rider in developing MotoGP projects and I am grateful for the consideration received by the manufacturers. However, I have decided not to make any commitments and to remain free from formal agreements for now. I have an immense passion for racing. I still have the ambition to compete and fight to win. I will return to MotoGP as soon as I find a project driven by the same passion and ambition that I have and within an organization that shares my same objectives, values ​​and working methods. Now I am focused on finishing the World Championship in the best possible way, and I have already started developing some projects with my partners. 🇮🇹 ECCO COSA FARÓ NEL 2021 Nel corso degli ultimi mesi ho ricevuto le proposte di alcune Case per partecipare nel 2021 come test rider al lavoro di sviluppo dei loro progetti in MotoGP. La cosa mi ha fatto molto piacere e sono grato per la considerazione ricevuta. Nonostante queste opportunità ho deciso di non prendere nessun impegno e di rimanere libero per ora da accordi formali. Ho un’immensa passione per le gare e ho ancora l’ambizione di voler correre e lottare per la vittoria. Tornerò quindi in MotoGP se e quando troverò un progetto guidato da altrettanta passione e ambizione e all’interno di un’organizzazione che condivida obiettivi, valori e metodo di lavoro. Ora sono focalizzato nel terminare il mondiale nel miglior modo possibile e ho gia’ iniziato a sviluppare alcuni progetti con i miei partners per il futuro. #Dovi04 #AD04 #undaunted #ForzaDucati #MotoGP #Alpinestars #SuomyHelmets #RedBull #Biotekna #Mondottica #DucatiEyewear #lentidavistaGalileo #MucOff 📷 @calloalbanese

A post shared by Andrea Dovizioso (@andreadovizioso) on

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Marc Marquez Rules Out A Return in 2020

Marc Marquez has finally confirmed what had long been known. The Repsol Honda rider announced via social media - and the Repsol Honda team confirmed it in a press release - that he will not make a return to racing in 2020. He is focused on his recovery, and will attempt to be fit for the start of the 2021 season.

The problem for the Spaniard has been the rate at which his arm is recovering from injury. The humerus, the bone in his upper right arm, which he broke at Jerez, is taking a very long time to grow back and heal sufficiently for him to race. Repeated scans of his arm have shown the slow rate of his recovery, and consequently, after consulting with multiple medical experts, Marquez has decided to skip the last two races in the hope of giving himself more time to recover.

What this means for next year is still far from clear. The expectation for Marquez is that he will be fully fit by the time the 2021 season kicks off, provisionally at Qatar on March 28th. But as of right now, there are no guarantees, and his rehabilitation program has to continue.

There were credible reports in Spanish media of Marquez requiring additional surgery to fix his arm, but so far, there is no sign of that happening. Marquez continues his recovery, and continues to post pictures of him training on social media.

Below is Marquez' post on Twitter, announcing he would not be back:

 

The Repsol Honda press release appears below:


Repsol Honda Team prepare for penultimate race, Marc Marquez to return in 2021

The European GP showed the great potential Alex Marquez and Stefan Bradl have built to over the season, the pair aiming to deliver as the 2020 season begins to wrap up.

As his recovery continues, Marc Marquez and the Repsol Honda Team confirm he will not participate in the remainder of the 2020 MotoGP season and aims to return to racing in 2021. Working through his recovery programme and tracking the progress of his arm, Marc Marquez in conjunction with Honda, his team and multiple expert doctors, has elected to officially delay his return to action until 2021.

Last week, Alex Marquez was the unfortunate victim of a second DNF in two races, the MotoGP rookie tumbling while fighting for the top ten. Before the fall, and throughout the weekend as a whole, Alex demonstrated consistently strong pace abroad the Honda RC213V as his impressive growth in the premier class continues. With two wet days of practice for the European GP, dry track time was at a premium and Alex is hoping for a dry weekend this time out. The objective for the second week in Valencia is to continue fighting inside the top ten.

Stefan Bradl will complete the 2020 season for the Repsol Honda Team. With back-to-back point finishes, Bradl has hit a strong vein of form and like Alex showed well during the course of the weekend, especially in the wet. Bradl will be aiming to make it three point-scoring finishes in a row, repeating his run from 2019 when he replaced the injured Jorge Lorenzo.

Alex Marquez

“Straight back to work for the second last race of the season. The two days of rain last weekend made Sunday a bit unknown, but I think we were able to handle it well before the fall. This gives me some good confidence for the weekend as I think we can work well again. Of course, everyone else will surely make a step so we need to keep working but we can challenge for our goals again. Now is the time to push and end the season in the best way possible.”

Stefan Bradl

“First of all I want to wish Marc all the best in his continued recovery and thank HRC for giving me this opportunity. We have made a lot of progress since Le Mans and I have felt my level increase with more bike time and working with the Repsol Honda Team. The week of data will help us and the forecast is looking better at the moment. It’s going to be a busy end to the year but I am looking forward to it.”

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Andrea Iannone Loses Appeal, Banned For Four Years Through 2023

Andrea Iannone has lost his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against his suspension for failing a drug test. The CAS ruled that Iannone had failed to prove that he had ingested drostanolone, the banned substance which had appeared in the urine sample taken from him after the Sepang race, as a result of eating contaminated meat. 

Both Iannone and the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) had appealed against the 18-month suspension imposed by the FIM's International Disciplinary Court (CDI). Iannone was asking to have the ban dropped, claiming that he had failed the drug test because he had eaten some contaminated meat. WADA wanted the 18-month ban extended to four years, which is the mandatory suspension for violating the WADA doping code.

Iannone had argued that the very small quantities of drostanolone which had been detected in his urine sample could only have come as a result of accidental ingestion by eating contaminated meat. However, in the WADA code, which covers nearly all sports, the onus is on the athlete failing a drug test to prove their innocence, reversing the burden of proof in a criminal court.

The CAS ruled that Iannone had not been able to supply convincing evidence of accidental contamination. He and his legal team and the scientific experts they had called on had failed to provide evidence for what type of meat he had eaten that might have been contaminated, what such meat might have come from, nor that there was any evidence of widespread contamination with drostanolone in meat production in Malaysia.

Failing to provide evidence for this fatally undermined Iannone's case, and the CAS felt compelled to impose the mandatory four-year ban set out in the WADA code. The suspension commences on December 17th, 2019, and runs until December 17th 2023.

With Iannone out for the next three years, his career is essentially at an end. He would be 34 by the time he is eligible again, and would have been out of competition for four years. By that time, there will be another cohort of fresh young faces from Moto3 and Moto2 knocking at the gates of MotoGP, who will be a much safer bet for team managers.

Iannone's suspension also leaves a hole at Aprilia. The Noale factory had been holding off on a decision about a replacement rider until Iannone's case had been dealt with by the CAS. As a result, they have missed out on the opportunity to sign replacement riders. Andrea Dovizioso has chose a sabbatical - and the risk of retirement - over a seat at Aprilia, and Cal Crutchlow looks set to go to Yamaha as a test rider. Options are few and very far between for the Italian factory.

There have been rumors of Jorge Lorenzo going to Aprilia, Lorenzo admitting he had an offer from the Italian factory. But doubts linger over Lorenzo's commitment to racing after a poor showing at the Portimao test last month. Lorenzo has little incentive to return to MotoGP on a bike which is not yet competitive. Whether he has the will to do so should become clear in the next few days.

The press release from the CAS appears below.


MEDIA RELEASE
MOTO GP - DOPING

THE COURT OF ARBITRATION FOR SPORT (CAS) IMPOSES A FOUR-YEAR PERIOD OF INELIGIBILITY ON ANDREA IANNONE

Lausanne, 10 November 2020 - The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has announced its decision in the appeal arbitration procedures between the Italian MotoGP rider Andrea Iannone, the World Anti- Doping Agency (WADA) and the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM). Andrea Iannone and WADA filed separate appeals at CAS against the decision rendered by the FIM International Disciplinary Court dated 31 March 2020 in which Andrea Iannone was found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) (presence of Drostanolone, a anabolic steroid featured on the 2019 WADA Prohibited List) and an 18-month period of ineligibility was imposed on him.

The CAS Panel rejected the appeal filed by Andrea Iannone and upheld the appeal filed by WADA. As a consequence, the decision rendered by the FIM International Disciplinary Court has been set aside and replaced with the following new decision:

• Andrea Iannone is sanctioned with a period of ineligibility of four years commencing on 17 December 2019.

• All competitive results obtained by Andrea Iannone from and including 1 November 2019 through the commencement of his suspension are disqualified, with all resulting consequences, including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.

The appeals were consolidated and referred to the same Panel of arbitrators: Dr. Hamid G. Gharavi, France/I.R. of Iran (President), Judge Franco Frattini, Italy, and The Hon. Michael J. Beloff Q.C., UK (Co-arbitrators). The hearing took place on 15 October 2020.

On 3 November 2019, on the occasion of the FIM World Championship MotoGP in Sepang/Malaysia, Mr. Iannone underwent an in-competition doping control which revealed the presence of Drostanolone. Further to an internal disciplinary procedure, the FIM International Disciplinary Court decided on 31 March 2020 that Mr. Iannone should be suspended from participating in any motorcycling competition or activity during 18 months as of 17 December 2019.

Andrea Iannone asserted that the source of the prohibited substance was contaminated meat that he had ingested in Malaysia prior to the 2019 Sepang FIM World Championship MotoGP and that accordingly, he should be fully acquitted and that the Challenged Decision should be annulled. WADA, on the other hand, sought the imposition of a four-year period of ineligibility on the grounds that Andrea Iannone had failed to establish to the requisite standard that the origin of the prohibited substance in his sample resulted from meat contamination, and that as a consequence, the imposition of a four-year period of ineligibility was the appropriate sanction.

The CAS Panel found that Andrea Iannone had failed to establish neither the precise type of meat he had consumed nor the origin of said meat. Moreover, the Panel found that neither Andrea Iannone nor his experts were able to establish specifically that there was an issue of meat contamination by Drostanolone in Malaysia. The Panel considered therefore that an ADRV has been committed.

Andrea Iannone essentially left the Panel with protestations of innocence, his clean record and his alleged lack of incentive to dope. Factors which were insufficient to establish, on a balance of probability that Andrea Iannone’s ADRV was not intentional (in case of an unintentional ADRV, the applicable period of ineligibility would have been of two years maximum).

Since it is for an athlete to establish on the balance of probabilities that an ADRV is not intentional, his inability to do so means that he is deemed to have committed an intentional ADRV, pursuant to the applicable anti-doping rules. The Panel’s conclusion does not of itself rule out the possibility that Andrea Iannone’s ADRV may be the result of consumption of meat contaminated by Drostanolone but means that Andrea Iannone has not been able to provide any convincing evidence to establish that the ADRV he committed was unintentional.

Accordingly, the Panel found, contrary to the Appealed Decision, that the ADRV committed by Andrea Iannone was to be treated as intentional for purposes of the applicable anti-doping rules, and therefore upheld WADA’s Appeal. The CAS award sets aside the decision rendered by the FIM International Disciplinary Court dated 31 March 2020 and imposes a four-year period of ineligibility on Andrea Iannone.

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Andrea Dovizioso To Take A Sabbatical, Cal Crutchlow To Take Yamaha Test Rider Role?

Andrea Dovizioso's future is becoming increasingly clear, and his choices are going to have a knock on effect for the test rider market. According to a report from Motorsport.com's Oriol Puigdemont, Dovizioso has decided to take a sabbatical and spend a year racing motocross, in the hope of making a return to MotoGP in 2022.

Dovizioso had been in talks with KTM, Yamaha, and Honda for a role as a test rider, and at one point had looked very close to signing with HRC, to work as a test rider, and as a competitive replacement rider in the worst-case scenario of Marc Marquez not being fit enough to start the 2021 season. He was also a long way into negotiations with Yamaha to replace Jorge Lorenzo as test rider, but both those options fell at the last hurdle.

There are a number of reasons for negotiations to have failed. Firstly, there was Dovizioso's insistence that he wanted to race motocross at the national level in Italy. Manufacturers are believed not to have been thrilled by the thought of signing Dovizioso as a test rider, and him being unable to fulfil his duties if he were to pick up an injury in an MX race.

Secondly, Dovizioso made no secret of his desire to return to racing in 2022. That meant that factories knew that they would only have him as a test rider for one year, and risked losing him - and the knowledge of their bikes he would have acquired - to a rival the following season. That placed Dovizioso's manager Simone Battistella in a weaker negotiating position, and factories appear to have been unwilling to accede to his demands.

According to the story by Puigdemont, Dovizioso will announce his intention to take a sabbatical some time this week. Whether that sabbatical will turn into permanent retirement is a good question. With several contracts up for grabs in 2022, as well as two extra bikes on the grid from Gresini and Aprilia splitting into two separate teams, and the VR46 operation expected to take over from Avintia, there are options open. But there will also be another batch of young talent coming through from Moto2, and at 36 years of age, Dovizioso may not be at the top of most team's candidate lists.

With Dovizioso out of the equation, that opens the door for a reshuffle in the test rider market. Yamaha have dispensed with Jorge Lorenzo's services after a disappointing performance at Portimao, and because Lorenzo did not keep himself in the kind of shape needed to ride a MotoGP bike at a competitive pace.

That opens doors for Cal Crutchlow. The Englishman lost his ride at LCR Honda earlier this year, and had been linked to the second seat at Aprilia. However, Aprilia's insistence on waiting for the outcome of Andrea Iannone's appeal to the CAS against his suspension for doping violations has not sat well with any of the potential candidates for the role, and especially not with Crutchlow, who has been very outspoken against doping.

At 35 years of age, and with a daughter approaching school age, a role as a test rider would suit Crutchlow much better. Those who have worked with him through the years have praised his feedback, and he played a key role in driving development of the Honda RC213V.

All this puts Crutchlow at the front of the line for the Yamaha test rider role. Well-informed Italian journalist Giovanni Zamagni, writing for Moto.it, is reporting that the deal is almost done, with Crutchlow set to sign a two-year deal with Yamaha as a test rider. This reporting confirms information from my own sources in the paddock, which put Crutchlow in extended talks with Yamaha for the role.

With Dovizioso out of the picture and Crutchlow heading to Yamaha, this leaves one big open question. Who will take the second seat at Aprilia for next year if Iannone's suspension is either upheld or extended, which appears to be the most likely outcome. Aprilia may find themselves forced to either sign Lorenzo Savadori, current test rider, to a full-time role, after parting ways with Bradley Smith, or look outside the MotoGP paddock for a replacement.

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