Three-time MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo says he has been "convinced" of Andrea Iannone's innocence amid the Italian's 18-month suspension for doping.
Aprilia rider Iannone was handed the ban by the FIM after testing positive for an anabolic steroid late last year, but the 30-year-old has always insisted he was not at fault and has pledged to fight the ruling in the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS).
March's FIM disciplinary hearing concluded that that Iannone had failed the drugs test after consuming contaminated meat, but that he could not be fully acquitted.
On Tuesday, Lorenzo uploaded a picture of himself and Iannone together in Lugano, Switzerland to his Instagram account, and wrote that he believes that the Italian is fundamentally innocent.
"Yesterday [Monday] we went for a walk on the lake and chatted for a while," the post read.
"We laughed remembering some anecdotes and I also asked him about his issue.
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"He is the only one who knows the truth, but when I was listening to him I saw him serene and his arguments convinced me.
"Like everyone, surely Andrea has made mistakes in the past, but I think this time the 'mistake' was not voluntary.
"So I hope and I wish that sooner than later he'll be considered free to practice what he does best.
"In the end, you may like his 'character' or not but it is clear that the boy has talent and speed.
"And as I said yesterday: 'Talent is neither bought nor forgotten.'"
In a recent interview with Motosprint, Iannone revealed that Lorenzo and Maverick Vinales had been the only riders to get in touch with him in the wake of his ban being confirmed.
"I can assure you that in the Safety Commission, when we go back racing, I will be the first to raise the issue and ask for a change to the rules, because it is an issue that needs to be addressed," said the Aprilia man.
"And I say this for the good of all and with the other riders in mind."
Iannone thankful Aprilia didn't take "easy option"
Iannone says he is grateful that the Aprilia MotoGP team didn't take the "easier" option of ending his contract after his 18-month suspension from competition for failing a drugs test.
Aprilia CEO Massimo Rivola said at the start of the year that a lengthy ban for Iannone would likely result in the end of their relationship, but has continued to back the Italian.
"To Aprilia I must say thank you, because they never gave up on me, they always believed in my innocence," Iannone told Italian magazine Motosprint.
"It would have been much easier for them to leave me stranded and take another rider.
"There are many who would gladly take my place.
"In that case, I would have found myself alone in this absurd situation and it would have been much more difficult."
In February, Rivola told Autosport that Aprilia preferred to retain both Aleix Espargaro and Iannone for 2021 if possible.