Andrea Iannone Loses Appeal, Banned For Four Years Through 2023

Andrea Iannone has lost his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against his suspension for failing a drug test. The CAS ruled that Iannone had failed to prove that he had ingested drostanolone, the banned substance which had appeared in the urine sample taken from him after the Sepang race, as a result of eating contaminated meat. 

Both Iannone and the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) had appealed against the 18-month suspension imposed by the FIM's International Disciplinary Court (CDI). Iannone was asking to have the ban dropped, claiming that he had failed the drug test because he had eaten some contaminated meat. WADA wanted the 18-month ban extended to four years, which is the mandatory suspension for violating the WADA doping code.

Iannone had argued that the very small quantities of drostanolone which had been detected in his urine sample could only have come as a result of accidental ingestion by eating contaminated meat. However, in the WADA code, which covers nearly all sports, the onus is on the athlete failing a drug test to prove their innocence, reversing the burden of proof in a criminal court.

The CAS ruled that Iannone had not been able to supply convincing evidence of accidental contamination. He and his legal team and the scientific experts they had called on had failed to provide evidence for what type of meat he had eaten that might have been contaminated, what such meat might have come from, nor that there was any evidence of widespread contamination with drostanolone in meat production in Malaysia.

Failing to provide evidence for this fatally undermined Iannone's case, and the CAS felt compelled to impose the mandatory four-year ban set out in the WADA code. The suspension commences on December 17th, 2019, and runs until December 17th 2023.

With Iannone out for the next three years, his career is essentially at an end. He would be 34 by the time he is eligible again, and would have been out of competition for four years. By that time, there will be another cohort of fresh young faces from Moto3 and Moto2 knocking at the gates of MotoGP, who will be a much safer bet for team managers.

Iannone's suspension also leaves a hole at Aprilia. The Noale factory had been holding off on a decision about a replacement rider until Iannone's case had been dealt with by the CAS. As a result, they have missed out on the opportunity to sign replacement riders. Andrea Dovizioso has chose a sabbatical - and the risk of retirement - over a seat at Aprilia, and Cal Crutchlow looks set to go to Yamaha as a test rider. Options are few and very far between for the Italian factory.

There have been rumors of Jorge Lorenzo going to Aprilia, Lorenzo admitting he had an offer from the Italian factory. But doubts linger over Lorenzo's commitment to racing after a poor showing at the Portimao test last month. Lorenzo has little incentive to return to MotoGP on a bike which is not yet competitive. Whether he has the will to do so should become clear in the next few days.

The press release from the CAS appears below.



Lausanne, 10 November 2020 - The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has announced its decision in the appeal arbitration procedures between the Italian MotoGP rider Andrea Iannone, the World Anti- Doping Agency (WADA) and the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM). Andrea Iannone and WADA filed separate appeals at CAS against the decision rendered by the FIM International Disciplinary Court dated 31 March 2020 in which Andrea Iannone was found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) (presence of Drostanolone, a anabolic steroid featured on the 2019 WADA Prohibited List) and an 18-month period of ineligibility was imposed on him.

The CAS Panel rejected the appeal filed by Andrea Iannone and upheld the appeal filed by WADA. As a consequence, the decision rendered by the FIM International Disciplinary Court has been set aside and replaced with the following new decision:

• Andrea Iannone is sanctioned with a period of ineligibility of four years commencing on 17 December 2019.

• All competitive results obtained by Andrea Iannone from and including 1 November 2019 through the commencement of his suspension are disqualified, with all resulting consequences, including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.

The appeals were consolidated and referred to the same Panel of arbitrators: Dr. Hamid G. Gharavi, France/I.R. of Iran (President), Judge Franco Frattini, Italy, and The Hon. Michael J. Beloff Q.C., UK (Co-arbitrators). The hearing took place on 15 October 2020.

On 3 November 2019, on the occasion of the FIM World Championship MotoGP in Sepang/Malaysia, Mr. Iannone underwent an in-competition doping control which revealed the presence of Drostanolone. Further to an internal disciplinary procedure, the FIM International Disciplinary Court decided on 31 March 2020 that Mr. Iannone should be suspended from participating in any motorcycling competition or activity during 18 months as of 17 December 2019.

Andrea Iannone asserted that the source of the prohibited substance was contaminated meat that he had ingested in Malaysia prior to the 2019 Sepang FIM World Championship MotoGP and that accordingly, he should be fully acquitted and that the Challenged Decision should be annulled. WADA, on the other hand, sought the imposition of a four-year period of ineligibility on the grounds that Andrea Iannone had failed to establish to the requisite standard that the origin of the prohibited substance in his sample resulted from meat contamination, and that as a consequence, the imposition of a four-year period of ineligibility was the appropriate sanction.

The CAS Panel found that Andrea 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 has been committed.

Andrea Iannone essentially left the Panel with protestations of innocence, his clean record and his alleged lack of incentive to dope. Factors which were insufficient to establish, on a balance of probability that Andrea Iannone’s ADRV was not intentional (in case of an unintentional ADRV, the applicable period of ineligibility would have been of two years maximum).

Since it is for an athlete to establish on the balance of probabilities that an ADRV is not intentional, his inability to do so means that he is deemed to have committed an intentional ADRV, pursuant to the applicable anti-doping rules. The Panel’s conclusion does not of itself rule out the possibility that Andrea Iannone’s ADRV may be the result of consumption of meat contaminated by Drostanolone but means that Andrea Iannone has not been able to provide any convincing evidence to establish that the ADRV he committed was unintentional.

Accordingly, the Panel found, contrary to the Appealed Decision, that the ADRV committed by Andrea Iannone was to be treated as intentional for purposes of the applicable anti-doping rules, and therefore upheld WADA’s Appeal. The CAS award sets aside the decision rendered by the FIM International Disciplinary Court dated 31 March 2020 and imposes a four-year period of ineligibility on Andrea Iannone.


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The first part should have been easy. Sod the "I ate some bad beef" dodge, it is a rubbish denial. Instead, employ the old reliable "I accidently used my girlfreind's toothbrush" excuse. It does get a bit trickier after that, as the girlfriend in question needs to be around 420 cm tall, but if that can be sorted then Bob's your Uncle.

But for all of that I will miss Andrea, if for no other reason that he was never intimidated by MM, and had no hesitancy in swappimg paint with Marc...anytime, anyplace. And that made him a rare pilot over the last six years.

What is especially tragic is that it appears, to me at least, that this had little or nothing to do with performance enhancement. Sadly, I think Iannone went down this path for mostly cosmetic reasons, with a small dish of injury recovery on the side. Not admirable...but not exaclty pushing a flock of Nuns and Orphans down the Spanish Steps.

But Rule # 1 is always; I don't get to make the rules. I hope Andrea finds some peace and a new life at the end of all this. "He loved the women and he hated the's a shame he wanted such a great big jaw"* is how I will remember him. Cheers.

PS, The real story of how Iannone came to be called "The Maniac" (a moniker Vale hung on him), has nothing to do with actually racing GP motorcycles. But it very much does have to do with a pilot's party, Jorge's invited girlfriend, and a locked...but far from soundproof...bathroom. Cheers.

*Appologies to Doc Watson's great version of "Otto Wood the Bandit"

Regardless of how you feel about Iannone's off-track antics, MotoGP losing talent like this is a true bummer.  

It has all been said. Lamented the waste of rare talent ingredients like when I see fresh vegetables I neglected to cook in time have to get tossed in compost. Sad. Regrettable. And, the past. Will never forget the double inside pass that made me believe, condom jokes, promise, and anothersolid reminder that self involvement and ego are to be minimized. Contrasting with his opposite of synchrony again today in AD04. 

I can't say I ever especially rated Iannone, he was a bit too erratic for that, but it's harsh to take away his competitive future for a breach that almost certainly was more about vanity than performance. I've never liked the 'make an example' approach to crime and punishment, not least because it clearly doesn't work - people still do the same stuff, just try new ways to not get caught. In addition, on one level this seems like total hypocrisy: riders get injuries in practice that would floor any 'normal' person but, by being pumped full of painkillers, corticosteroids and so on, still line up on Sunday. Surely those treatments are performance enhancing in much the same way as the drugs that are banned? I know I sure as hell walk much better, faster and for longer if I dose myself up with co-codamol and ibuprofen every day. And, as my GP likes to remind me, those drugs are not harm free.

I always hoped that Iannone would be the next Simoncelli but despite flashes of true brilliance he never got there. That said, I think the punishment is over the top harsh and that he should have gotten off with "time served".

Gobert was just a frat-bro who not only never respected his own talent, but more importantly didn't even live up to his talent; he never won anything meaningful, his talent was never proven or fulfilled. With Iannone it's far more tragic - he won a race for a factory team. He proved his talent. And then he pissed it all away.

He doesn't even look like the same human being now, such is his vanity. Until I saw a photo just yesterday of him battling with Marquez and Dovi, I'd totally forgotten he was a factory Suzuki rider - he could have been the 2020 world champion for goodness sake! What a complete dope.

The issue is more philosophical than any ideas of cheating. What substances do the riders take to improve their performance which is not on the list of banned substances? Performance enhancing yes, illegal no. Given that...what is a 'clean' rider?

Looking at Alex Marquez after Aragon 1 he was destroyed. Gave it his all, exhausted. There are obvious advantages to be had from being physically better than the guy next door and rider weight would seem to be quite important. A delicate balance.

Simon Patterson pointed out on tw*tter that this issue has destroyed cycling. The most damage was done not by the fact that riders are willing to 'cheat' but that 'cheating' went undetected. Which means you can bet your last penny on it still taking place undetected.

Everytime i think about this issue i feel very naive. On the one hand there is this idea of pure human performance and on the other...well there is no other hand, it's a large grey mass within which all professional athletes exist. The defining measure is simply what is banned and what is not. 

I will miss Ianonne. Mecurial, just as sporting heros should be.

Let's swing the pedulum the total opposite way and allow riders to ingest anything and everything they want and see what happens.  It is generally accepted the best overall physique for a motoGP rider to be a muscular (but not muscle-bound) garden gnome.  If everything is on the table, so to speak, riders and their nutritionists/trainers will be burning the midnight oil concocting a diet and exercise plan that, just like everything else, will evolve and eventually spiral out of control resulting in riders with the muscle mass of a silverback gorilla, temperment of a rabid honey badger, and a precipitous downturn in testicular mass.  It may take years, but the riders themselves will find an equillibrium between what is too much and not enough.  In the meantime, imagine the off and on-track antics of a bunch of PED-addled racers that push, pull and punt each other on track like a rugby scrum, communicate with their team with pointing and grunts, and spend their off-track time stabbing themselves in the thigh hoping to juice themselves into a time fast enough to get into Q2.  Each post-race presser will be a melee of thrown chairs, fingers jabbed into competitor's chests, and bouncers waiting in the wings to restore calm. Entertaining?  Most assuredly.  Entertaining for the right reasons? Notsomuch.    

Have you seen some of the riders these days ? Power to weights to rival the engines and no power where it's not needed. Ianonne was not the only rider to lose lots of weight. How did they do it ? Riders and their nutritionists/trainers burning the midnight oil concocting diet and exercise plans. What is in that diet ? Everything legal otherwise they would have been caught because they catch everybody...

Of course it has to be controlled but as i say, always end up feeling naive. 4 years is too long.

As Cal Crutchlow has stated many times in interviews......we need more drug testing in GP as there are riders who wouldn't pass week in week out. He also mentiond#s that although needles are banned, you still find riders using needles. A new class i#of GP for the future??? only diabetic riders need apply.

They shouldn't half do it. If they are going to call it cheating then the testing should be on the same level as other athletes. If not then it's token gestures and you can't destroy careers just to be seen to be active.