Andrea Iannone’s appeal against MotoGP suspension delayed further

If Andrea Iannone is successful in overturning his drugs suspension, it won't be until October at the earliest after his appeal hearing was pushed back

Andrea Iannone - Aprilia MotoGP

Aprilia Racing rider Andrea Iannone’s hopes of making a prompt return to the MotoGP World Championship grid has been dealt a blow after the appeal hearing against his 18-month drugs suspension was pushed back to October.

The Italian was punished as a consequence of being discovered with traces of the steroid drostonolone in his urine during a routine test in Malaysia. 

Though the possibility of it being ingested erroneously through contaminated meat was accepted as a possible reason for the negative test, it didn’t earn him any clemency in his sentence. 

New 2020 Aprilia RS 660 | EICMA 2019 | Visordown

Nonetheless, it did give Iannone’s lawyers the confidence to launch an appeal to the Court Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but while it was hoped the hearing would take place around now, it has now been rescheduled for October 15.

As such, even if Iannone is successfully in fully overturning his ban straight away, he’d be free to compete again with Aprilia for the final five rounds of the season. However, his appeal has prompted a counter measure from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which is pushing for the full four-year term. 

Despite the postponement, Aprilia CEO Massimo Rivola says the team stands by Iannone and will wait on the results of the appeal before making a decision on MotoGP 2021.

This creates a headache for Cal Crutchlow, who has been linked with a switch to Aprilia when he most likely exits LCR Honda at the end of the season. The Briton will now need to decide whether to take a chance on waiting for the appeal hearing and miss out on the ride if Iannone is cleared, or whether to consider other options.

As it stands, Yamaha is still to formally confirm Valentino Rossi at Petronas SRT Yamaha though a deal is widely expected, while Crutchlow appears unlikely to be in the running for one of the four seats still available on Ducati machinery for 2021.

Alternatively, he could revert to a MotoGP testing role, while Honda has signalled its desire to join its burgeoning new factory WorldSBK programme. 

Fellow Briton Bradley Smith looks set to remain Iannone's substitute if and when he returns to MotoGP.