Today was the day of Andrea Iannone's counter-analysis. After being provisionally suspended from sporting activities by the FIM pursuant to Article 7.9.1 of the Anti-doping Code (CAD), starting from December 17, the rider from Vasto, found positive in the anti-doping checks carried out during the Grand Prix in Malaysia, opted not to ask for the suspension to be suspended, as was his right, preferring instead to wait.
The decision to temporarily suspend Andrea Iannone was made 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 1.1a) Exogenous Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS), which is part of the 2019 prohibited list. The substance was found in a urine sample collected from him in an in-competition test carried out by the FIM during the Sepang, Malaysia round of the world championship on November 3.
As of yet, there are still no results of the B-sample analysis, but experience of similar cases indicates that the first result is rarely overturned.
Iannone says: "I am totally relaxed. I made a lot of checks, all negative".
Andrea's defence is therefore working on the involuntary nature of the intake or on some contaminated food product.
"I am totally relaxed, and I want to reassure my fans and Aprilia Racing - said Iannone, who added - I am open to any counter-analysis in a matter that surprises me. Over the years, and also this season, I have undergone continuous checks, obviously always proving to be negative, which is why I have every confidence in the positive conclusion of this affair.”
Andrea Iannone is provisionally suspended from December 17, 2019. He is therefore prohibited from participating in any competition or motorcycle activity until further notice. Pursuant to article 188.8.131.52 CAD, Iannone can ask for the temporary suspension to be lifted and it results that that’s what Aprilia will do so that Andrea can take part in the Malaysian tests to be held at Sepang from 7 to 9 February.
Aprilia: "It is essential that Andrea can test in the Sepang tests".
"As far as we are concerned, it is almost more important for Andrea to be on the track for testing, than running the risk of missing a few races. Iannone has made a valuable contribution. His would be a serious loss: he helped us to understand what is wrong and to have a faster bike on race pace."
It might seem a surprising statement, but not so surprising: at Sepang Aprilia are scheduled to debut a completely renewed RS-GP bike, whose engine, having abandoned the narrow 'V' configuration, will embrace the 90° philosophy already adopted from the start by Ducati, and then also by Honda.
As a result, it’s vitally important that both riders – Aleix Espargarò and Andrea Iannone – are out on track. Talks are currently being held with Karel Abraham, currently the only available rider with MotoGP experience, but it wouldn’t be the same thing.
But what does Andrea risk?
To put it simply, the Vasto rider runs the risk of a four-year ban.
If the counter-analysis proves to be positive, an outcome - as we mentioned - that is more than likely, then Iannone could appeal. First to the International Disciplinary Court (which will have to rule within 45 days), and then if that is rejected there is the possibility of lodging another appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
In the worst case, it is clear that it is a very long process, lasting months even, which could become a problem seeing as the first tests are at the start of February.
The maximum sentence is a four-year ban, but it’s not automatic. The anti-doping regulation is very complex and involves a lot of fine print. For example, if the intake of the prohibited substance was unintentional (e.g. contained in other products) the ban is reduced to two years.
The intention of the rider to 'cheat' or not and whether the substance has been taken in contexts that are unrelated to an increase in his sporting performance must also be taken into consideration. If the rider’s good faith is demonstrated, then everything can boil down to a simple reprimand.
Rivola: maximum support for the rider right now
And this is what Aprilia is hoping after Massimo Rivola offered Iannone the full support of the Veneto company. Everyone is hoping that the affair blows over and Andrea gets away with a simple warning that will allow him to take part in the world championship. Nothing has been left to chance and the rider has turned to a top legal representative, Antonio De Rensis, who has already solved a number of difficult cases.
At this moment, however, the future of Iannone and, from a certain point of view, the Aprilia MotoGP project runs on a tightrope.
The first objective, after that of challenging the accusations, will be to ‘release’ the rider to allow him to test the new bike. But the outcome of this strategy is far from certain.