Iannone laments extension of doping ban to four years

·2-min read
MotoGP - French Grand Prix
MotoGP - French Grand Prix

(Reuters) - Italian MotoGP rider Andrea Iannone's doping ban has been extended from 18 months to four years, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said on Tuesday, in a decision Iannone said made "no logical sense".

The sport's governing body FIM had initially imposed an 18-month suspension after Iannone tested positive for the banned steroid Drostanolone at last year's Malaysian Grand Prix.

The CAS panel dismissed Iannone's appeal against the ban, and instead ruled in favour of a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) request to have the suspension extended to four years.

"Andrea Iannone is sanctioned with a period of ineligibility of four years commencing on December 17, 2019," CAS said in a statement.

Iannone, who has a contract with Aprilia until the end of the 2020 season, has maintained his innocence and said he tested positive because he accidentally ate contaminated meat.

The CAS panel, however, found that Iannone had established "neither the precise type of meat he had consumed nor the origin of the said meat".

In an Instagram post, the 31-year-old said: "Today I've received the worst injustice I could ever have imagined.

"No logical sense on these allegations accompanied by incorrect facts," he said, without specifying which details he was referring to. "For this there will be an appropriate place and time," he said.

"I certainly do not give up."

In a separate statement, Aprilia said they do not regret supporting Iannone throughout the proceedings but will have to look at other riders for the 2021 season.

"We do not regret having stood by Andrea and, to the contrary, we continue to stand by him at this time," Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola said.

"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, nicknamed "The Maniac", joined Aprilia in 2018 but struggled to match team mate Aleix Espargaro for most of last season.

Britain's Bradley Smith has deputised for Iannone in the 2020 championship.

Autosport has reported outgoing LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow has a pre-agreement in place with Aprilia for the 2021 season.

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Alex Richardson and Hugh Lawson)