“Motorcycling is my life” – Andrea Iannone on drug ban ‘trauma’

Aprilia MotoGP's Andrea Iannone insists 'motorcycling is his life' as he faces an anxious wait on the final decision for his positive drug test sample

Andrea Iannone has once more protested his innocence as he faces a prolonged wait to discover whether he will be allowed to continue racing or whether he will be banned for his failed drugs test.

The Aprilia MotoGP rider has been suspended from competition since December 17th after it was confirmed he had tested positive for a banned substance in a urine sample supplied during the 2019 Malaysian MotoGP. 

A subsequent test of the B sample confirmed the results of the first, though Iannone’s lawyers insist the trace amounts prove they were ingested unintentionally in what they claim to be contaminated meat consumed during the Sepang event.

With no official word from the FIM or WADA about the result of the B sample – despite the lawyer’s comments otherwise being widely reported on – Iannone is now forced to play a waiting game which could continue into March when a decision on whether to exonerate or formalise his suspension could come at the latest.

In the meantime, Iannone has professed his innocence, saying the sacrifices he has taken over his career show he would never intentionally take a banned substance.

“[I feel like I am in] A film in which I involuntarily play the leading role: For an athlete who has made many sacrifices, it is a trauma,” he told Gazetta dello Sport.

“I am not working on a plan B. The most important thing is to be quick with Aprilia. Motorcycling is my life. I’m not so stupid to risk other things or these latest events. I feel like a racing driver, for me and for the others.

“If you are clear with your conscience, they can chalk you what they want. I don’t feel like I’m branded.

“In 2018 I was in the WADA biological passport system: five drivers will be drawn, who are always available and who have to tell them where they are to be checked. I was then tested a lot, at least three times in Asia, but also away from racing.”

Iannone also hit back at claims he prioritises his image on social media – where his largely product endorsement-themed posts have earned him a huge 1.6million following – over his commitment to Aprilia.

“Perhaps I am the driver who uses the social media the least: They are used specifically for advertising purposes to which I am contractually obliged.

“Aprilia is very much, like a family. I would never have expected such support, that is as important to me as a win, I feel trust, I can’t know the rest.”

Fausto Gresini backs Andrea Iannone’s claims

It could be a potentially long waiting game for Iannone to find out when he can come back to racing – if at all…

In the meantime, Aprilia is publicly backing Iannone until it understands the final outcome of the investigation.

However, the timing means it is having to initiate Plan B for February’s MotoGP tests, which kick off on February 2. For now, Bradley Smith is promoted to de facto race rider, with Max Biaggi and Lorenzo Savadori in the running for a testing role in Malaysia.

Iannone has also got the backing of Aprilia team manager Fausto Gresini, who told GPOne that he believes the rider when he says he ingested the steroid unintentionally.

“I had the chance to speak with him and I believe in good faith, he did nothing wrong. In Sepang he immediately showed up at the checks and that’s not the behaviour of someone who has something to hide. In that race riders lose a lot of fluids and this may have had an influence, his values are over the limit but not much.”

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