MotoGP

Aprilia’s suspended MotoGP rider Iannone unlikely to race in Qatar

Andrea Iannone now looks unlikely to contest the first round of the 2020 MotoGP season in Qatar next month, as his doping case is still yet to be resolved.

Iannone is currently under suspension from MotoGP governing body the FIM after failing a World Anti-Doping Agency drug test during last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

A second urine sample subsequently provided also testing positive for an anabolic steroid.

An FIM hearing took place earlier this month in Switzerland where Iannone argued his case, with the Aprilia rider adamant of his innocence, though no verdict was taken then.

Since then he has submitted hair samples for testing due to the increased accuracy such samples provide.

A verdict on Iannone’s case was expected last week, but it is dragging on due to the involved parties disagreeing on elements of the evidence.

Iannone will miss this weekend’s final pre-season test in Qatar – though was present at the team’s launch presentation on Friday at Losail – and appears increasingly unlikely to line up on the grid for the first race of the season in a fortnight.

Commenting on the case, Aprilia CEO Massimo Rivola told Autosport: “What I can say is that all the precedents of athletes who have presented the capillary analysis as evidence have won by resorting to the Court of Sports Arbitration [CAS].

“What happens is that it requires more time, which is precisely what we don’t have.

“With the scientific evidence presented by Andrea’s defence, things cannot go wrong because those tests are unequivocal.”

Should Iannone be unable to race, Rivola confirmed test rider Bradley Smith will contest the Qatar event.

“In the event that Andrea can’t ride [in Qatar], Bradley deserves to take his place for all the work he has done,” he said.

Rivola previously stated Aprilia would likely drop Iannone should he be handed a lengthy ban by the FIM, but insisted to Autosport at the Sepang test that keeping him for 2021 alongside Aleix Espargaro was its intention.

“For sure our target is to keep Aleix and Andrea – I would even say Andrea, if we can,” said Rivola.

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