The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has finally announced that they will be hearing the appeal of Andrea Iannone against his doping ban of 18 months, imposed by the FIM International Disciplinary Court at the end of March.
However, in a surprise move, the CAS also announced they will be hearing an appeal against the leniency of the ban from WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, who want the full four-year ban reinstated.
At the heart of the case is the doping test Andrea Iannone failed after the race in Sepang, in November 2019. Traces of drostanolone, a banned anabolic-androgenic steroid, used mainly for weight loss, was found in that urine sample.
As a non-specified substance, drostanolone use carries an automatic four-year ban under the WADA code, which the FIM signs up to and incorporates.
At an appeal to the FIM International Disciplinary Court (CDI), that court reduced Iannone’s ban to 18 months, after Iannone presented evidence that he had ingested the banned substance accidentally, without his knowledge, and without him being able to suspect he might have ingested it.
This is the reason Iannone believes that the ban should be lifted altogether. Not only was ingestion accidental, but Iannone claims he had taken precautions to avoid eating contaminated meat.
The levels found in Iannone’s sample were so low that accidental contamination is the only possible explanation, he claims.
However, this explanation is precisely why WADA is appealing against the reduction of the ban. Under WADA rules, athletes are personally responsible for everything they eat and drink, and everything entering their body.
WADA rules do not allow for accidental ingestion, and although there is a defense of “No Fault or Negligence”, the standards are exceptionally high and hard to meet. WADA want the full penalty, a ban of four years, to be applied to Iannone.
WADA has standing in this case as it wrote the rules which the FIM adopted to combat doping. In the run up to the 2016 Olympic games, WADA increased the maximum ban for doping from 2 years to 4 years.
It is possible that WADA is clamping down on anything which could be seen as setting a precedent or opening a loophole in the run up to the next Olympics, to be held in Tokyo in 2021 – delayed a year, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
No date has been set for the hearing, and the current list of hearings in front of the CAS extends into November. The chances of Iannone’s ban being heard ahead of the start of the 2020 MotoGP season on July 19th seem very slim indeed, and there is a chance the hearing won’t be heard until much later in the year.
While Iannone is still suspended pending the CAS appeal, Bradley Smith will take his place. The Englishman and Aprilia test rider is due to take part in a test at Misano on Wednesday June 10th, together with Lorenzo Savadori.