Andrea Iannone drug ban appeal date set, will miss MotoGP tests

Andrea Iannone will be forced to watch the first 2020 MotoGP tests from the sidelines after his appeal hearing was set for February 4

Andrea Iannone - Aprilia MotoGP

Andrea Iannone will definitely miss the first round of 2020 MotoGP World Championship testing after the appeal hearing for his doping suspension was dated for February 4.

The Aprilia MotoGP rider has been provisionally suspended since December after testing positive for the banned anabolic steroid drostanolone during a routine test at the Malaysian MotoGP round in Sepang. His B sample also came back positive, according to his lawyer.

The Italian has always maintained his innocence, claiming the steroid was ingested accidentally through contaminated meat.

It is the argument he is expected to present at the appeal hearing on February 4 at FIM's International Disciplinary Court in Switzerland.

With the suspension in place until the hearing, it means he will definitely miss Aprilia’s first Sepang test on February 2-4. The Italian manufacturer is able to take part in a shakedown test as part of its concession status before the full field tests on February 7-9.

However, with panel having a maximum 45 days from the appeal hearing to make a decision on whether to formally suspend him or clear him, Iannone will probably miss the official tests and even be unable to compete in the opening round in Qatar.

Should that happen Bradley Smith will take his place in the team as de facto race rider alongside Aleix Espargaro, though Aprilia is yet to confirm who will ride the third RS-GP during the tests.

Max Biaggi was linked but has since been ruled out by Fausto Gresini, leaving the option of Karel Abraham or – more likely – Lorenzo Savadori.

The test will see Aprilia pull the wraps off its 2020 RS-GP, which is all-new from the ground up as the Italian manufacturer looks to close the gap on its main rivals.