The never ending story… Andrea Iannone drugs ban appeal drags on further

There's no immediate end in sight for MotoGP rider Andrea Iannone's drugs ban decision with a verdict on his appeal this week to be made in November

Andrea Iannone - Aprilia MotoGP

Andrea Iannone’s hopes of getting a swift verdict to his laborious appeal against a drugs suspension have been dashed after he was informed no decision will be made until mid-November now.

The Italian, who was due to compete with Aprilia Racing in MotoGP this season, has been forced onto the sidelines since November 2019 after a routine urine sample returned a positive result for the prohibited steroid drostanolone.

Despite maintaining his innocence, claiming to have ingested it unknowingly through contaminated meat during the Malaysian MotoGP event, he was handed an 18-month suspension that was to last until June 2021.

Undeterred - and claiming to have evidence that would exonerate him - Iannone took his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Originally scheduled for August before being pushed back to October, it was hoped the appeal hearing would finally deliver a definitive verdict quickly.

However, a statement confirmed that while the hearing went ahead, no decision will be made now until November..

The set-back potentially puts paid to any chance of Iannone being seen this season, with a mid-November ruling only offering up the potential of an appearance at the Portimao season finale on 20-22 November.

Even then that would be dependent on Iannone’s ban being quashed or considered time served, but by taking his case to CAS he also risks it being extended further. A statement from CAS confirms WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) is pushing for a full four-year ban, which would effectively end the 31-year old’s career.

Where does this leave Aprilia for the 2021 MotoGP season?

While Bradley Smith remains on call to compete in place of Iannone to the end of the season, the situation further confuses matters for Aprilia’s 2021 MotoGP line-up.

Up to now the team has remained loyal to Iannone by saying no decision will be made until the situation is clarified.

While many have pointed to the availability of Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso for 2021, it is believed the Italian hasn’t entered into talks of a ride. Instead, rumours in Aragon suggest Cal Crutchlow has signed a pre-agreement that would come into force if Iannone is unable to ride in 2021.

“The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing in the appeal arbitration procedures filed by the Italian MotoGP rider Andrea Iannone and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) took place on 15 October 2020

“The panel of arbitrators will now deliberate and finalise the Arbitral Award containing their decision. It is expected to be notified by mid-November 2020. The final award will be announced on the CAS website.”

“The proceedings concern the decision taken by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) International Disciplinary Court decision dated 31 March 2020 (the Challenged Decision) in which Andrea Iannone was found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation and an 18-month period of ineligibility was imposed on him.

“Andrea Iannone seeks to have the Challenged Decision annulled, whereas WADA requests that the Challenged Decision be replaced by a new decision imposing a four-year period of ineligibility on the rider.”