Three and a half months after being suspended, Andrea Iannone has now been banned until June 2021, due to the fact that he was found positive following an anti-doping check carried out at the GP in Sepang. The FIM only issued a short press release, without making public the reasons for the IDC ruling, something that Massimo Rivola, CEO of Aprilia Racing, took a pretty dim view of.
The manager of the Noale manufacturer is not happy with this first decision of the sport’s justice system.
"The positive thing is that the work done by the lawyer De Rensis with our support has been accepted - he commented - It was recognized that Iannone ate contaminated meat. The only and unusual thing is that, normally, in these cases there are sentences for wilful misconduct, then an appeal is made to the CAS and, if you can prove food contamination, you are acquitted, because in itself it is synonymous with innocence. It means he had a contaminated steak, but he couldn't have known. "
So why was he sentenced?
“The funny thing is that it is claimed that the rider was not protected enough, not even by the team. As if it was up to us to bring food to his room. After reading those reasons, you would expect a very different sentence from the one that was written. "
Why do you think it was decided to give him an 18-month sentence?
“In my opinion it was a number they arrived at in consideration of what is the current situation in the world and the fact that the championship can only start in the summer. The International Disciplinary Court seems to have wanted, in a certain sense, to protect itself against WADA by not giving too light a penalty. In this way, however, they declared that Andrea is innocent but by penalizing him at the same time, there is a clamorous discrepancy".
What was your first reaction?
“On the one hand, I'm happy because Andrea comes out clean, but we want our rider to race. Now we have to see the time it takes to appeal to the CAS".
"Normally it’s 3 or 4 months, so I can imagine having Andrea ready for the first race, it seems difficult that we can go back to racing before July".
Are you optimistic about the success of the appeal?
“The statistics say that all those athletes who appealed to the CAS and demonstrated food contamination have been acquitted. We don't even have to prove it, because it is the sentence that says it happened and this is unprecedented. In addition, it is also written that Iannone did not gain any benefit from this substance. "
The traces of drostanolone were also minimal.
“Yes, but as long as the substance is traceable, there is no minimum threshold, so they gave him a penalty. The prosecution claimed that it was not possible that there was drostanolone in the meat, instead we have shown that it exists and is very frequent, but it’s not up to the rider to control what he eats and it would not even be possible to do so. "
How do you think this process has been managed by the FIM?
"I believe that, in a normal situation, the sentence should have come much closer to the Qatar Grand Prix, as the president of the FIM Viegas had also declared. What happened has extended the time of everything; I hoped that a decision would be reached earlier, also because the argument and the evidence brought by the defence were unequivocal, so unequivocal that in fact they were recognized. But Andrea was still penalized; in the end it is like when you accidentally eat mascarpone that is past its sell-by date and then you get an upset stomach, there is no voluntary action".
Could this set a dangerous precedent?
“I hope there are no more cases like this, I don't know what else to say. I can say that I expected the decision to come faster, because all the other sports federations have been much quicker in similar cases. Andrea was suspended 3 and a half months ago; in normal circumstances he would have already missed 3 races and if we add the appeal to the CAS, he would have missed half the championship ".
If, for any reason, the season starts and Iannone is still disqualified, what will you do?
“I honestly can't think about that yet. The easiest thing is to race with Bradley Smith and use Lorenzo Savadori in the tests. Fortunately, we have a true thoroughbred in Aleix Espargarò and the new bike seems to have been born under a good star, apart from everything else there is a bit of optimism. "
The subject of contract renewal will also have to be tackled; would you like to continue with Iannone?
“Yes, of course, but I believe that every decision should be made after the CAS ruling. In an ideal world, in July we start with Andrea and in 2021 we will have the same riders ".