ROME: Italian MotoGP rider Andrea Iannone has been banned for four years after testing positive for a banned steroid, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said on Tuesday. The sport’s governing body FIM had initially imposed an 18-month suspension after Iannone tested positive for the steroid Drostanolone at last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix. The 30-year-old Italian appealed to CAS, while the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) asked the court to lengthen the ban to four years. “The CAS Panel rejected the appeal filed by Andrea Iannone and upheld the appeal filed by WADA,” CAS said in a statement. “Andrea Iannone is sanctioned with a period of ineligibility of four years commencing on 17 December 2019.” Iannone, who has a contract with Aprilia until the end of the 2020 season, said he tested positive because he ingested the banned substance accidentally through 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”. “The FIM has taken due note of the Court of Arbitration for Sport decision to impose a four-year period of ineligibility on Andrea Iannone,” the sport’s governing body said in a statement. Iannone, nicknamed “The Maniac”, joined Aprilia in 2018 but struggled to match team mate Aleix Espargaro for most of last season. Aprilia has publicly backed Iannone throughout the proceedings and has repeatedly expressed its desire to retain him for 2021 as Espargaro’s team mate. 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.