Andrea Iannone accepted ‘absurd, inexplicable’ MotoGP drugs ban before verdict

Ex-Ducati and Aprilia MotoGP rider Andrea Iannone says the sheer complexity of his drugs suspension case meant he knew he was heading for a long ban

Andrea Iannone - Aprilia MotoGP [1200]

Andrea Iannone says he had already come to terms with the likelihood that he was heading for a long suspension from competing in MotoGP over a failed drugs test despite branding it as ‘absurd and inexplicable’.

The Italian was sensationally banned from competing in any sanctioned motorcycle racing for 18 months after a random drugs test taken during the 2019 Malaysian MotoGP at Sepang delivered a positive result for the banned substance drostanolone, believed to have been consumed from eating contaminated meat.

A subsequent appeal to overturn the ban made to CAS (Court Arbitration for Sport) failed, with the body instead coming down on the side of WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) who succeeded in having the suspension extended to the maximum four years.

With the ban due to end in December 2023 - effectively ending his racing career - Iannone has opened up more about the impact the suspension has had on his life, saying he has continued training but is unable to do more on a motorcycle than the odd track day.

While CAS accepted the argument Iannone had ingested the substance unknowingly, the complexities in the case - and reportedly the flimsy argument for his appeal - resigned him to recognising he was always going to lose out.

“I had already processed it over time and by the day of the verdict, I had already understood that it was certain,” he said speaking on Italian TV. “It wasn't pretty, because when you understand things before they happen, you're like, 'How can that be?' It's very complex, I felt bad and I suffered a lot, it's very difficult for me to talk about that time. 

“But I'm someone who reacts quite quickly and looks for a new motivation every day, in everything. In the end I started to think: Precisely because it was so absurd and inexplicable, maybe something even worse could have happened. It had to be like this. 

“So I started to accept this thing, to take it easy, to look around and see what life had to offer me - and here I am."

“I was checked for 16 years, including outside of the races, and every test was negative. I spontaneously and of my own free will suggested having the hair sample taken – which of course also turned out negative. 

“It was recognised that I had not wanted to take the substance, but simply through a piece of meat in the restaurant, but it wasn't enough.”

Reflecting on his quality of life now, Iannone - who was competing with Aprilia at the time of his suspension - says he cannot generate the same level of buzz as he was when he was competing in MotoGP.

"I lack the speed, what MotoGP gives me, I can't find anywhere else. I never stopped training, I still ride my motorbike when I can. 

“But it's a bit complicated because I no longer have a racing driver's license and therefore have to find the right opportunities where my license is good enough for a track day."