The stakes have been raised for Andrea Iannone's upcoming appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with the announcement that WADA is also challenging the original 18-month MotoGP ban – and wants it increased to 4 years.

It's not a complete surprise that both sides are challenging the original verdict, with FIM president Jorge Viegas saying in March:

"After [the decision of the FIM Disciplinary Court] there will be the possibility of an appeal to the CAS, both on the part of Iannone and his employer, Aprilia, if the sanction is considered too severe; or on the part of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) if it considers that the sanction is not sufficient."

That is what has now happened.

But it means that while Iannone may have thought the 18-month ban was a worst-case scenario, there is now an increased possibility the ban could be more than doubled if the appeal decision goes against him, surely ending his MotoGP career.

A CAS statement read:

'The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has registered the appeals filed by Italian MotoGP rider Andrea Iannone and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against the decision taken by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) International Disciplinary Court decision dated 31 March 2020 (the Challenged Decision) in which Andrea Iannone was found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation and an 18-month period of ineligibility was imposed on him.

'Andrea Iannone seeks to have the Challenged Decision annulled, whereas WADA requests that the Challenged Decision be replaced by a new decision imposing a four-year period of ineligibility on the rider.

'The procedures have been consolidated and will be referred to the same Panel of arbitrators. A procedural timetable is being established for the filing of the written submissions. No hearing date has been fixed yet.'

Iannone was handed the 18-month ban - to run from December 17, 2019 until June 16, 2021 - after failing an anti-doping test due to traces of drostanolone, a prohibited steroid, in both his A and B urine samples at last November's Malaysian Grand Prix.

While no official explanation was provided alongside the judgement issued by the FIM Disciplinary Court, Aprilia Racing boss Massimo Rivola said they were 'baffled' by the ban: "The judges recognised Andrea’s complete good faith and unawareness of assuming the substance, confirming the food contamination argument."

WADA previously challenged the FIM Disciplinary court's punishment for Antony West. The FIM handed the Australian a one-month ban for failing a doping test in May 2012, causing him to miss the Valencia finale, but WADA appealed to the CAS, seeking a 24-month ban. 

Ultimately, the CAS chose to partially uphold the WADA appeal, issuing an 18-month ban for West but with a retroactive start date (from when he had failed the doping test, May 2012) and minus the one month already served.

It meant West had his results removed from the records between May 2012 and October 2013, but did not miss any more races.

With that sentence length in mind, it is perhaps no coincidence that the FIM Disciplinary court also chose an 18-month ban for Iannone, perhaps hoping it would be accepted by WADA without appeal, given the previous West ruling by the CAS.

But that has not been the case...

Aprilia test and wild-card rider Bradley Smith is set to fill in for Iannone if he is unable to ride in the delayed 2020 season, which starts at Jerez in July.

Should Iannone, 30, fail to get his ban reduced and is therefore out of action for the start of 2021 Aprilia will probably be forced to look elsewhere for Aleix Espargaro's future team-mate.

Another proven race winner, Danilo Petrucci, is now available after losing his Ducati seat and has confirmed he would be interested in joining the team if Iannone is unable to continue.

 

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