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 that 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 that 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, where 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 chosen 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 lingers 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 that is not yet competitive. Whether he has the will to do so should become clear in the next few days.
Source: CAS; Photo: MotoGP