Tennis: Dan Evans hit with one-year ban after testing positive for cocaine

Dan Evans has been handed a one-year ban after testing positive for cocaine, the International Tennis Federation has announced.

The former British number two failed the test at the Barcelona Open in April and announced the news at an emotional press conference in June.

The ban has been backdated meaning Evans will be eligible to play again on April 24 next year.

Evans did not deny taking cocaine, telling the ITF, which oversees the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme, that he had done so on April 20.

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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: “Mr Evans cannot establish that he bears No Fault or Negligence for his violation because 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 under the TADP.

“On the other hand, based on the circumstances of the inadvertent contamination, 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.

“In all of the circumstances of this case, including the time and expenses saved by reaching an agreed outcome rather than having a disputed hearing, the ITF accepts that a 12-month reduction is within the range of reasonable outcomes.”

The length of the ban appears to make it much more likely that Evans will return to the sport, with the 27-year-old already nearly halfway through his suspension.

However, being out for 12 months means he 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 previous indiscretions.

He will now have to start from the bottom again, and wild cards are unlikely to be forthcoming, certainly from British tournaments, given the reason for his absence.

Under the terms of the ban, Evans also forfeits his results and prize money – totalling 103,890 euros (over £92,000) – during the period from Barcelona until he was notified of his ban in June.

Evans won the only two ATP Tour matches of his career on clay in Barcelona but lost in the first round of his other tournaments on the surface.

PA Sport

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