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Could FIM pursue a ‘pardon’ for banned Andrea Iannone over WADA tactics?

Andrea Iannone chances of returning to racing before his drugs suspension ends in 2023 will have to come from the FIM doing something very unprecedented

Andrea Iannone - Aprilia MotoGP


Andrea Iannone says he has been given a lift by the assertion from FIM President Jorge Viegas that the governing body hasn’t given up exploring all potential avenues to overturn Andrea Iannone’s extended drugs ban.

The Italian tested positive for a banned steroid in October 2019 and was subsequently banned for 18 months in December 2019. Iannone proceeded to appeal the sentence but after weeks of delays, not only would Iannone lose his case but his sentence was extended to four years, all but ending his racing career.

With positive drug testing a very rare occurrence in motorsport, there has been a suggestion that WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) pushed particularly hard for a maximum sentence in order to take the opportunity to send out a clear message to others in the sport.

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Together with it enforcing a strict crackdown on drugs cheats in the wake of Russia’s state-sponsored programmes, many feel Iannone - who says he ingested the steroid via contaminated meat during the Malaysian MotoGP event - has been unfairly made an example of in an unprecedented situation  

With this in mind, FIM President Viegas has suggested a pardon from him that would in effect overrule WADA is potentially on the table, but it would appear an unprecedented move for a governing body to defy a ruling from cross-sport independent institution as CAS (Court for Arbitration of Sport)

Even so, it’s a vote of confidence that Iannone says he hopes at the very least prevent other riders from experiencing the chain of events that led to his lengthy ban.

“I’m very happy with what Viegas declared, I am pleased with what he said andI  know well what his thoughts are, he has always reiterated that hej believes in my innocence,” Iannone told GPOne.com. “I hope that as president of the Federation, for all riders and for our sport, he can do something about me. What happened to me today can happen to another tomorrow and is an incredible threat. We cannot allow WADA to have this power that you cannot fight against.

Pointing out his case was used by WADA to clampdown on ‘contaminated food’ arguments that have led to as many athletes being acquitted as there convicted, Iannone says he doesn’t regret appealing his original sentence - in effect starting the process of his extended suspension - because he believes WADA would have pursued him regardless.

“It’s not true that if I hadn’t done it, WADA wouldn’t have done what they did. They asked for four years of suspension from day one and have always appealed these cases. I suffer a lot, but I am not giving up and I’m carrying on.

“It hurts a lot to go into the paddock and see my rivals always racing while I cannot anymore. What has been done is simply not justice.”