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Andrea Iannone Suspended for 18 Months in Drug Case; Appeal Planned

The FIM handed down its decision in the Andrea Iannone matter yesterday, concluding that the banned substance found in his blood following a test at Sepang on November 3 of last year warranted an 18-month period of ineligibility to participate in the MotoGP championship. The 18-month period began on December 17, 2019, and would extend to June 16, 2021 – meaning Iannone, whose contract with Aprilia expires this year, would be unable to test and race until that time.

Below is the FIM statement regarding the decision, followed by a reaction from Aprilia, which notes the FIM apparently accepted the innocent nature of the ingestion of the banned substance.

STATEMENT BY THE FIM:

The FIM International Disciplinary Court (CDI) handed down on 31 March 2020 a decision imposing a period of ineligibility of eighteen months on Italian MotoGP Rider Mr. Andrea Iannone, commencing on 17 December 2019 (i.e. the effective date of the Provisional Suspension) and which shall end on 16 June 2021.

Following a routine In-Competition doping test conducted at the round of the FIM Grand Prix World Championship held in Sepang, Malaysia on 3 November 2019, Mr. Andrea Iannone tested positive for Drostanolone metabolite 2α-methyl-5α-androstane-3α-ol-17-one, a WADA prohibited substance under heading “S1. Anabolic Agents, 1. Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS), a. Exogenous AAS” of the FIM Anti-doping Code.

Following notification of his adverse analytical finding Mr. Iannone was provisionally suspended by the FIM since 17 December 2019.

A hearing before the CDI on the merits of the case was held in Mies (Switzerland) on 4 February 2020. At the end of the hearing the CDI panel decided to suspend the hearing pending the additional and final written submissions of the parties (i.e. 28 February 2020).

Mr. Iannone is disqualified from Round 18 of the 2019 FIM Grand Prix World Championship held on November 1-3, 2019, in Sepang (Malaysia) and Round 19 of the 2019 FIM Grand Prix World Championship held on November 15-17, 2019, in Valencia (Spain) with all of the resulting consequences including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.

An appeal against the CDI decision may be lodged before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland within 21 days from the date of receipt of the CDI decision pursuant to Article 13.7of the FIM Anti-doping Code.

RESPONSE FROM APRILIA RACING:

FIM SENTENCE – FOOD CONTAMINATION ARGUMENT ADMITTED BUT ANDREA IANNONE SUSPENDED FOR EIGHTEEN MONTHS
 
MASSIMO RIVOLA: “ABSURD PENALTY, IT’S A SENTENCE THAT EVEN ACKNOWLEDGES IANNONE’S INNOCENCE. WE WANT ANDREA BACK IN THE SADDLE AND WE’LL SUPPORT HIM IN HIS APPEAL TO THE CAS”


Aprilia Racing acknowledges the FIM measure that imposes an eighteen-month disqualification for rider Andrea Iannone.

Upon initial analysis of the sentence, it is satisfying to see how the total absence of intention was recognised and the accidental nature of the assumption of steroids, in fact recognising the argument of food contamination, something that had never before occurred. This scenario opens up new possibilities of appeal for Andrea Iannone, but the puzzlement remains for a penalty that is entirely inconsistent with the reconstruction contained in the sentence itself which recognises in the facts, albeit without acquitting him, Andrea Iannone’s innocence.
 
In observance of the sports values which have always inspired our operations and which outline zero tolerance for any practices prohibited by the regulations, Aprilia Racing has always reiterated our complete faith in our rider and we do so now with renewed emphasis after this sentence and we will support him in his appeal to the CAS.


MASSIMO RIVOLA – APRILIA RACING CEO
“The sentence leaves us baffled because of the penalty levied against Andrea, but also very satisfied in its motivations. The judges recognised Andrea’s complete good faith and unawareness of assuming the substance, confirming the food contamination argument. For this reason, the penalty imposed does not make any sense. In light of the motivations written by the judges themselves, Andrea should have been acquitted, as has always occurred to other contaminated athletes, but this situation leaves us a lot of hope for the appeal which we hope will be very quick. We want Andrea back on his Aprilia RS-GP. We will be by his side all the way to the end of this matter and we will support him in his appeal.”

30 Comments

  1. Pedro says:

    Looks like he picked a great time to serve his ban. Hope in the future he doesn’t order Pork Steroid with Spicy Broccoli from column B. A mistake many athletes make.

  2. bmbktmracer says:

    If Iannone did take something, it wasn’t so he could beat Marquez. It’s so he could beat injuries faster and resume training because his MotoGP career depends on it. The only thing this hyper-regulation accomplishes is to drive fans away from the sport.

    • mickey says:

      I’m pretty sure the banned substance list and regulation is the same for all professional sports..mc racing, bicycle racing, car racing, baseball, football, tennis, track and field etc

      • Dave says:

        It is the same for all IOC registered/Olympic sports and any others (including FIM) that defer anti-doping to WADA.

        NFL football is not a WADA governed sport, for instance, which is why it’s a dope show.

        • bmbktmracer says:

          I stopped watching the Tour de France after they pulled Lance’s 8 victories from the books. Everyone was doping. The fact is, no one trained harder than that guy. If no one had doped, he’d have his 8 wins. But since everyone was doping… Note that doping was so prevalent the organizers didn’t bother naming an alternate winner.

          These guys know the risks and if they choose to be lab rats, ultimately society wins. Look at NFL concussions. Because of those guys, society is far better educated as to the risks. Sounds cold but it’s true.

    • Provologna says:

      False.

      AI agreed to the rules with his signature, freely and without duress. A quick Google search specifies Aprilia paid AI $3.3 to race by the rules and to suffer the penalty for violating the rules.

      The more the banned substance rule is enforced the less likely and frequent are racers to ingest dangerous banned substances. The banned substances increase risk to health and well being. That’s why they are banned. (I find it pathetic that this is not self-evident.)

      The less the banned substance rule is enforced the more widespread is their use.

  3. mickey says:

    I’m reading there is more to the decision than is being told, but they cant comment because Iannone has 21 days to file an appeal. Once the appeal has gone thru the process they can explain why they banned him for 18 months.

  4. Jabe says:

    I’m curious. If what Iannone says is true in that he had not intentionally taken any PED’s and that it came from a contaminated food source, how would he know what meal to blame it on? I understand there may be a plausible explanation, maybe somebody here knows and could share?

    • Dave says:

      It is ultimately his responsibility. If he can plausibly demonstrate that he ate contaminated meat or innocently took a contaminated supplement, the best he can hope for is a reduced ban duration, which 18 months already is. Standard WADA ban for a 1st offense is 24 months.

  5. Ricardo says:

    This is unfair, why not give him a probation period and test him in the next 18 months? this will just destroy his career.

  6. Curly says:

    At the rate the world is going he may not miss any races.

  7. TimC says:

    On the plus side, IIRC this is far less draconian than what sounded like would happen – before this it sounded like it would be a career-ending ban.

  8. Stan Gale says:

    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/anabolic-steroids-in-meat/
    This video talks about this EXACT SITUATION at 2:25 minutes.
    It’s absolutely disgusting that the FIM would not know this and instead impose such a destructive and unjust penalty.

    • Dave says:

      The FIM and more importantly the WADA know this very well because other athletes have tried to pass off this same excuse. That video describes the largely American phenomenon of “beef doping”. The drug he tested positive for is not something that would be found in beef in Europe. They like clean meat. So much so that our government has been considering applying a heavy tariff to small displacement European motorcycles because they won’t buy beef from us.

      Also interesting, a poster below says Iannone claims he ate the contaminated beef in Japan, where your video example says the beef is clean.

      • Provologna says:

        Aprlia and Ianone: “Who ya gonna believe? Us or your lying eyes?”

        Also recall this great scene from “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Sex:” Woody Allen plays a therapist talking to a shepherd who fell madly in love with one of his sheep. The therapist suggests the patient bring in the sheep, which he does, after which the therapist instantly falls madly in love with the sheep. Next scene the therapist is in bed in the honeymoon suite of the Waldorf Astoria, the sheep in black stockings and a garter belt, the wife busts open the double doors and her photographers shoot pictures, after which the therapist yells out: “IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK!!!” (Ianone to the MotoGP disciplinary board)

        • Hot Dog says:

          I had a riding buddy, who could always pick out the prettiest sheep in the flock, as we rode by.

          • Provologna says:

            Ha!

            Most of my riding was in Marin County and the West Sonoma County hills of “KAH-lifawnya.” A few lamas, but mostly cows, unlike the lovely sheep on your rides!

      • mickey says:

        “But the court ruled that, as the FIM anti-doping rules clearly state, riders are responsible for everything that enters their body, and they have a duty to avoid anything which might cause accidental contamination. That includes being aware that products that appear on the FIM list of banned substances are used in the production of meat in certain parts of the world. Iannone’s defense that he ingested drostanolone accidentally, while eating steak during the Pacific flyaways, was not considered sufficient.”

  9. The Anonymouse says:

    Were PEDs found in his bloodstream? Sheesh. Why would a motorcycle racer need AAS? I suppose he could say he didn’t take anything, someone gave it to him.

    Take or gave, whatever it was he had “it” in his system and again, why would a motorcycle racer need AAS?

    • Dave says:

      Riding these monsters is very physically demanding. Training and in this case doping would help a rider maintain their abilities later into the race where fatigue would lead to mistakes.

      Ultimately, the deal they all agree to is that they have ultimate responsibility for what goes in their bodies. Even a completely innocent contamination of a more common substance (like Clenbuterol, for instance) is viewed as the athlete’s mistake for not avoiding it.

      • Provologna says:

        Well put. And it can be no other way. If one excuse is accepted, it is impossible civilly, legally, morally, and ethically to enforce the rule. If any single excuse is an exception, any racer so inclined uses the drugs and if/when caught claims that excuse.

        By definition this means there is no rule, and any racer that does not ingest performance enhancing drugs, with their associated health risk (as if racers need more health risk), is at distinct disadvantage.

        If anyone has sympathy for AI, you have lost your case unless you first demonstrate falsity in the above mathematical formula.

        I have sympathy (no sarcasm) for the likely youthful persons who posted that AI’s penalty is “unfair.” As if life is fair.

        AI should have been permanently banned IMO; as someone posted, the penalty may be the equivalent, and if so, good.

  10. paul says:

    “the food contamination argument” good one.
    ok Andrea…close your eye’s really tight and plug your ears and take this pill…you don’t need to know what the pill is for….think of it as vitamins

    “Andrea should have been acquitted, as has always occurred to other contaminated athletes”
    stop asking silly questions Andrea….everyone does it…don’t worry your blessed little heart…when you get caught you’ll be fine just like all the others doing it.

    “We will be by his side all the way to the end of this matter and we will support him in his appeal”
    say the folks whom ‘prescribe’ the illegal ‘substances’ to the athlete(s). don’t tattle on us and we will keep paying your wages until the ‘food contamination argument’ scores another victory for us all…and then it’s business as usual.

  11. DucDynasty says:

    I wonder what food he ate that would contain the steroids at a level of detection?

    • mickey says:

      He claimed it was steak he ate at the Pacific fly away races.

      • Hot Dog says:

        I’d be willing to bet that most folks in the U.S. couldn’t pass this test. Our foods are chock full of wonderful hormones, scintillating steroids and hidden chemicals.

        • TimC says:

          “Ice cream, Mandrake. Children’s ice cream.”

        • DucDynasty says:

          Wow, if that’s true the ruling might just be unfair!

          • Provologna says:

            Life’s unfair? What? When did that happen?

            You’re born, you grow old (if you’re lucky), then you die? Really?

            Aprilia paid Andrea $3.3M (per a quick search, subject to correction). To readers: is it worth $3.3M/annual to insure you don’t eat tainted food?

            Give me a break, Andrea…

          • Provologna says:

            Prior to Covid-19, it took the average American “household” (not single wage earner like Andrea) about 66 years (about 1.7 generations) to earn what Aprilia paid Andrea annually.

            Do the phreakin’ math people: Andrea either purposely took banned substance or is so stupid he should not have any kind of driver’s license, much less a racing license.

            To repeat: “Who ya gonna believe: me or your lying eyes?” (AI)