Has been banned from tennis for a year by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after testing positive for cocaine earlier this year but has vowed to rebuild his career.
The ITF announced the length of Evans’ suspension on Tuesday, nearly six months after he failed the test at the Barcelona Open in April. The ban has been backdated, meaning the former British No. 2 will be eligible to play again on April 24 next year.
“Following the announcement made from the ITF [Tuesday], I want to thank everyone who has supported me throughout this difficult period,” Evans said via his agent. “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 admitted taking cocaine, telling the ITF, which oversees the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme, that he had done so on April 20.
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.
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 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.