Pecco Bagnaia has been involved in a car crash while vacationing on the Spanish island of Ibiza, which occurred while he was under the influence of alcohol. According to local Spanish media, Bagnaia crashed the car he was driving at a roundabout, losing control when he caught a wheel in a ditch. Though no other vehicles were involved, when the police arrived, Bagnaia failed a breath test, showing a blood alcohol level of 0.87g/l. Spanish law states that the legal limit in a breath test is 0.25 g/l, while the limit for a blood test is 0.5 g/l.
(It should be noted that blood alcohol content is measured differently in Europe and in Australia and in the US. In the EU, the units used are grams of alcohol per liter of blood, while in the UK, Australia, and the US, percentage is used, which is grams per 100ml. A blood alcohol level of 0.87 in Spain is equal to 0.087 in the US, or 87 in the UK.)
According to the police reports quoted by the local newspaper, Periodico de Ibiza, the police were called to an accident at 5am, where they found Pecco Bagnaia in a crashed car. They administered a breath test, standard procedure for anyone involved in an accident, and found him over the limit.
On Tuesday night, Bagnaia issued a statement and an apology on his social media accounts. "Last night I was in Ibiza with my friends for a party during this break from MotoGP. We celebrated and toasted together for my victory at the Dutch GP. As I was leaving the disco at 3am, I was facing a roundabout when I ended up with the front wheels in a ditch without involving other vehicles or people. However, the alcohol test carried out by the police found that the blood alcohol level was higher than what is allowed by Spanish law. I am sorry for what happened; I am practically a nondrinker, and it was a serious carelessness that should not have happened. I apologize to everyone, and I can assure you that I have learned my lesson. Never get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol. Thank you."
Bagnaia's statement on Twitter appears below:
— Pecco Bagnaia (@PeccoBagnaia) July 5, 2022
What happens next for Bagnaia is as yet unclear. Anyone caught in Spain with a blood alcohol level of between 0.5 and 1.2 g/l faces a punishment which includes a fine of between €300 and €600, and if they are a Spanish license holder, the loss of 6 license points and a possible suspension of the driving license of up to 6 months. As a foreigner, however, he is likely to only face a fine.
How Ducati and Dorna handle this is a separate matter. In the past, undesirable behavior outside of the track has been glossed over, or left to the teams to deal with. However, in this case, Pecco Bagnaia is one of the biggest names in the sport, a factory rider, and a prominent contender for the 2022 MotoGP title. It will be harder for Dorna to ignore, but they are unlikely to want to lose one of their biggest stars.
There is a clause in the regulations banning riders and teams from making statements which bring the MotoGP championship into disrepute, section 188.8.131.52. However, this section is titled, "Public Pronouncements by Teams and Riders", and makes no mention of behavior which could be detrimental to the championship. Only explicit statements are banned: "Teams and Riders must avoid public declaration or press release which could damage or negatively affect the MotoGP World Championship," the rule reads.
At the time of writing, Ducati have not released a statement on the incident.
Whether it is fair or not, talent tends to buy tolerance. Aprilia stood by Andrea Iannone, long after the Italian had been found guilty by WADA of using a banned substance, and had his appeal rejected by the CAS. Bagnaia is widely recognized as one of the most talented riders in MotoGP, so that is likely to buy him a degree of tolerance for his misdeeds.
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