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Aprilia worried Andrea Iannone appeal could extend drugs ban

Aprilia is concerned Andrea Iannone's appeal against an 18-month drugs suspension could open the door for WADA to recommend an even stiffer sentence

Andrea Iannone - Aprilia MotoGP [1200]

Aprilia Racing boss Massimo Rivola says he is concerned Andrea Iannone’s impending appeal for his 18-month drugs suspension could have the opposite of the desired effect and instead see his ban increased to as long as four years.

The Italian was suspended in December 2019 after traces of the banned steroid drostonolone was found in a urine sample taken at the Malaysian MotoGP event.

However, while Iannone presented evidence that suggested it was ingested erroneously through contaminated meat prepared in the hotel he was staying, the FIM International Disciplinary Court handed down an 18-month ban that would last until June 2021.

Iannone has since launched an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) which could potentially come to a decision before the 2020 MotoGP season has even begun as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, while lawyers are confident Iannone can emphasise his innocence at the hearing to get his suspension either reduced or scrapped altogether, there is also a risk that WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) will recommend an even stiffer sentence.

It is a concern that isn’t lost on Rivola – who has supported Iannone throughout the dispute – who believes WADA could use the appeal to set an example to enforce a sentence that could even run to four years.

“At first glance, the rider acknowledged that it wasn’t his fault,” Rivola told GPone. “Nonetheless, the prosecution [looked for] four years [as a ban]. As for the TAS, we expected to know who the president of the referees was, but at the moment we have no communication.

“My fear is that WADA is trying to create an exemplary punishment to show its importance and that could make the FIM a spectator. All of this is quite worrying, given that there is talk of 18 months of disqualification but I am of the idea that WADA will ask for four years.” 

Despite the outcome of the original ruling, Aprilia has stood by its man and – for the time being – he remains factored into its 2020 MotoGP rider line-up.

If a decision doesn’t come soon, however, Aprilia is likely to enter development rider Bradley Smith alongside Aleix Espargaro.