With a prohibited substance detected in both of Andrea Iannone's urine samples gathered at last November's Malaysian MotoGP, Aprilia recognise that some form of penalty appears inevitable at the upcoming hearing.

Instead of riding in the opening pre-season tests at the same Sepang circuit next week, Iannone will attend an FIM Disciplinary Court meeting in Switzerland on February 4.

An 'Exogenous Anabolic Androgenic Steroid' called drostanolone was found during the former MotoGP race winner's anti-doping test.

Iannone's lawyers have suggested the small amount present points towards accidental consumption via contaminated meat in Asia.

They also argue that use of a drug usually associated with body building makes little sense for a motorcycle racer trying to keep weight down, rather than 'bulk up'.

"On the 4th there is the hearing," Massimo Rivola, CEO of Aprilia Racing told Corriere della Sera. "The values ​​of this substance (drostanolone)… are very low. Perhaps there has been food contamination: Andrea is a 'carnivore', WADA itself says that such meat circulates in Asia."

Rivola also confirmed that Iannone had been under pressure to lose rather than gain weight.

"Last year at the first test I put him on the scale and said: '[Team-mate] Aleix Espargaro weighs 10kg less than you. You have to go on a diet, change your workout'. Already by July he had lost 6.5kg by working hard. Why would he take an anabolic if he had to lose weight?"

Following the FIM hearing, it could take as long as 45 days for a verdict on Iannone's punishment, although most expect an announcement sooner rather than later.

The length of any punishment will naturally determine Aprilia's future relationship with the 30-year-old, who previously raced for Suzuki and Ducati.

"I would be surprised if he were not penalised because I believe that the FIM must comply with the WADA codes," Rivola confessed.

"If he were to be [banned] for 1-2 years, it is clear that the relationship would end. If, on the other hand, he were to take a 'reprimand' or [ban of up to] three months, it would mean recognising his 'innocence' while still being sanctioned."

Until the verdict is known, test rider Bradley Smith will take over Iannone's workload on the all-new 2020 RS-GP and, Rivola confirmed, is the obvious choice should the #29 be forced to miss any races.

Meanwhile, Lorenzo Savadori has now been chosen to ride a 2019 bike at the Sepang tests, where he will try and get up to MotoGP speed with a view to carrying out some of Smith's former testing duties.

Rivola confirmed that the new bike will have a 90-degree V4 engine, matching the likes of Ducati and Honda.

"Starting from a blank sheet, we have put in place a series of developments to grow [the RS-GP project]," Rivola said. "We take risks, but lay the foundation for a motorcycle that will last for years."

As well as the redesigned engine, the latest RS-GP will have "completely different aerodynamics" while the project has benefited from the arrival of new engineers from Ferrari, Suzuki, Ducati, Lamborghini and BMW.

The target is for the machine to start in the top 15 but beat it's existing best MotoGP finish of sixth place by the end of the season, Rivola said.



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