After a long silence Andrea Iannone showed up before reporters yesterday, at just a few days from the hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sports. Tomorrow morning he’ll be in court in Lausanne for a trial in which the judges will not be present (due to the Covid-19 emergency) but will be connected remotely. The president of the panel will be Hamid Gaharavi, chosen by the defense, Franco Frattini, while Michael Beloff (who has often represented WADA in the past) was chosen by the FIM.
What are the possible sentences for Andrea? “The scenario ranges from zero to four years,” was his attorney, Antonio De Rensis’, response. The defense has asked for a full acquittal, the FIM is satisfied with the 18-month suspension to which it sentenced him last April, while WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency) would like the sentence to be increased to four years.
On the eve of the hearing, no one knows what the outcome will be. The annulment of a suspension is a dream more than something they can hope for. If it’s reduced to twelve months, it would be a victory. In that case, Iannone’s suspension would expire in December, so he could be back on his Aprilia next season. If, on the other hand, they were to confirm eighteen months, it would practically mean losing another season for him.
The problem is that WADA doesn’t want to drop it. “They wrote that if Andrea’s being deemed positive for food contamination is accepted, then they should change their protocols,” De Rensis specified. “I think a person comes before a protocol. The system has to change.”
University of Turin professor Alberto Salomone, one of the defense consultants, recalled how, in the past, the protocol changed for nandrolone and clebuneterol, for which there were positive cases that were not attributable to doping. Regarding dronastanolone (for which Andrea tested positive), disqualification is automatic.
According to the defense, however, the rider from Vasto took in unintentionally when he ate a contaminated steak in Malaysia. “The hair test ruled out a prolonged exposure to steroids. No one is stupid enough to use them occasionally, so there is only the possibility of an accidental intake,” was Solomone's reconstruction.
Andrea will enter the courtroom around 9 am tomorrow. The trial could last all day. Then the three judges will have to decide, and the sentence (final, without the possibility of further appeals) is expected within a few days, a week at the most. Only then will Iannone know if he’ll be able to get on his Aprilia again.