Dan Evans has said he is “determined to return to the sport I love” after being handed a one-year ban following his positive test for cocaine.
The International Tennis Federation announced the length of Evans’ suspension yesterday, nearly six months after he failed the test at the Barcelona Open in April.
It has been backdated, meaning Evans will be eligible to play again on 24 April 24 next year. The 27-year-old said in a comment via his agent: “I want to thank everyone who has supported me throughout this difficult period.
“I am determined to return to the sport I love and compete at the level I know I can in the not too distant future.”
Evans was informed of the positive test in June and revealed the news at an emotional press conference. He did not deny taking cocaine, telling the ITF, which oversees the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme, that he had done so on 20 April. The drug is only banned in competition and Evans denied taking it during the tournament, saying it had got into his system via permitted medication that he had stored in the same pocket of his washbag in which he had previously kept the cocaine. Evans’ expert, Dr Pascal Kintz, argued the very small amount of the drug present in Evans’ test was consistent with inadvertent contamination, and that was accepted by the ITF.
That explanation, coupled with Evans’ prompt acceptance that he had taken the drug, resulted in a more lenient ban that might have been expected.
The ITF decision read: “His conduct in taking cocaine and then storing it in his washbag, in the same pocket as his medication, was a departure from the rigorous standard of utmost caution required of all players.
“The ITF accepts that the player has established no significant fault or negligence for his violation triggering a discretion to reduce the two- year period of ineligibility by up to 12 months.”
Although the ban is as light as it could have been, being out for 12 months means Evans will lose his ranking, which currently stands at 108 but had risen as high as 41 in March.
Central to the frustration expressed by the likes of Davis Cup captain Leon Smith and Andy Murray after Evans’ admission was that he finally appeared to have got his career on track following some previous indiscretions.