Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola says the factory continues to stand by Andrea Iannone but must now ‘look to the future’ after the Court of Arbitration for Sport increased his MotoGP ban from 18-months to 4 years.
“Judgements must be observed and accepted, even if many elements of this decision arouse perplexities, even from a purely scientific point of view,” said Rivola.
“We do not regret having stood by Andrea and, to the contrary, we continue to stand by him at this time.
“This matter, with its extremely long times, has heavily damaged Aprilia Racing and our strategies for this and upcoming seasons.
“However, we must now look to the future, and it is our duty to quickly find a high-level solution that embraces the project we began with Andrea and that allows us to continue our growth, which is there and is clearly evident.”
Iannone had lodged an appeal with the CAS to try and overturn the original sentence given by the FIM, after testing positive for the anabolic steroid Drostanolone at last November’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
Iannone asserted that the source of the prohibited substance was contaminated meat ingested in Malaysia. But the CAS Panel said that Iannone ‘had failed to establish neither the precise type of meat he had consumed nor the origin of said meat.
“Moreover, the Panel found that neither Andrea Iannone nor his experts were able to establish specifically that there was an issue of meat contamination by Drostanolone in Malaysia.
“The Panel considered therefore that an ADRV [anti-doping rule violation] has been committed.”
If Iannone had been able to convince the CAS that the ADRV was at least ‘unintentional’ he would have faced a maximum ban of two years.
But in a ruling that almost certainly spells the end of the MotoGP race winner’s premier-class career, the CAS instead declared: “Andrea Iannone has not been able to provide any convincing evidence to establish that the ADRV he committed was unintentional.”
As such, the CAS upheld the rival appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and increased Iannone’s ban to four-years.
Aprilia, which signed Iannone from Ducati for the 2019 and 2020 seasons, has stood by the Italian throughout his suspension, even keeping a seat free for 2021 pending the outcome of his appeal.
But today’s verdict is the end of the road as far as Iannone being seen again in MotoGP until at least 2024 (the four-year ban starting from 17 December 2019).
But Dovizioso looks set to step back from racing next year, while Lorenzo appears more likely to take the Aprilia testing role.
Crutchlow has admitted interest in the race seat, but little else.
Test rider Smith replaced Iannone for much of the season and felt he was ‘the next option’ after Iannone and Dovizioso for 2021, only to be dropped in favour of Lorenzo Savadori for the final three rounds.