Aprilia Racing boss Massimo Rivola says he is 'baffled' by the ban handed to factory MotoGP star Andrea Iannone.

Iannone has been given an 18-month 'suspension' by the FIM after testing positive for a steroid at last November's Malaysian Grand Prix.

The ban runs from December 17, 2019 until June 16, 2021 meaning the Italian would miss all of this year's disrupted races plus winter testing and the opening rounds of next year.

But Rivola insists Iannone should have been acquitted since judges accepted the steroid had been consumed accidentally through contaminated meat.

"The sentence leaves us baffled because of the penalty levied against Andrea, but also very satisfied in its motivations," Rivola said. "The judges recognised Andrea’s complete good faith and unawareness of assuming the substance, confirming the food contamination argument.

"For this reason, the penalty imposed does not make any sense.

"In light of the motivations written by the judges themselves, Andrea should have been acquitted, as has always occurred to other contaminated athletes, but this situation leaves us a lot of hope for the appeal which we hope will be very quick.

"We want Andrea back on his Aprilia RS-GP. We will be by his side all the way to the end of this matter and we will support him in his appeal.”

Test rider Bradley Smith has been standing in for Iannone during testing and is expected to continue alongside Aleix Espargaro if the #29 is unable to race.

Iannone meanwhile told FIM statement announcing Iannone's ban did not comment on how the drug had been ingested.

Like most riders, Iannone is out of contract at the end of this season.