Andrea Iannone has been provisionally suspended from all racing activity for violating the FIM's antidoping code. A urine sample taken from Iannone at the Malaysian round of MotoGP at Sepang was found to contain traces of anabolic steroids. Once the findings of the sample, analyzed by a WADA-accredited laboratory, were reported, Iannone was handed a provisional suspension in line with the FIM antidoping code.
Iannone can appeal the result, and request that the B sample (the second sample taken at the same time) is analyzed. He can also appeal to the CDI (International Disciplinary Court) for his suspension to be lifted, but to do that, he would have to be able to provide evidence that the samples he provided had been contaminated in some way, or that he had taken the banned substances accidentally (something which is very difficult for anabolic steroids).
If Iannone does not appeal the result, or analysis of the second sample confirms the findings of the first, then Iannone faces an automatic four-year ban. Anabolic androgenic steroids are so-called non-specified substances, which means that it is almost impossible for them to enter the body accidentally or without knowledge of the person using them.
This is where Iannone's suspected offense is different to previous doping offenders, such as Ant West. West was found to have used so-called specified substances, which can be taken inadvertently, as West claimed, by using a supplement which did not label the ingredients clearly. Anabolic steroids are used to build muscle mass and burn fat, as well as to reduce inflammation in some cases. They are very hard to take by accident.
A four-year ban would automatically end Iannone's career. A number of rider and team managers had identified Iannone as one of the riders likely to leave MotoGP at the end of 2020, but he had also been expected to head to WorldSBK, where he would have been a very welcome addition. A four-year ban would make that impossible.
Iannone's suspension and possible ban leaves Aprilia in a quandary. The most obvious solution to any ban would be to promote Bradley Smith from his role as test rider. Smith has been pivotal in helping develop the Aprilia RS-GP, and providing input for the new bike to be launched at the Sepang test in February next year.
The press release announcing Iannone's suspension appears below:
FIM Grand Prix World Championship
Rider Andrea Iannone provisionally suspended
The Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) has advised Italian Grand Prix rider Andrea Iannone that he is provisionally suspended pursuant to Article 7.9.1 of the 2019 FIM Anti-doping Code (CAD). The decision to provisionally suspend Mr Andrea Iannone was mandatory following the receipt of a report from the WADA accredited laboratory in Kreischa b. Dresden (Germany) indicating an Adverse Analytical Finding of a non-specified substance under Section 1.1.a) Exogenous Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS) of the 2019 Prohibited List, in a urine sample collected from him at an in-competition test carried out by the FIM at the round of the FIM Grand Prix World Championship held in Sepang, Malaysia on 3 November 2019.
Mr Andrea Iannone has the right to request and attend the analysis of his B sample.
Mr Andrea Iannone is provisionally suspended with effect from 17 December 2019. He is therefore barred from participating in any motorcycling competition or activity until further notice. Under Article 18.104.22.168 CAD, Mr Iannone may request lifting of his provisional suspension.
Under the World Anti-Doping Code and the FIM Anti-Doping Code, the FIM is unable to provide any additional information at this time.