Dan Evans vows to return after drugs ban – but how easy will it be?
Dan Evans insists he can rebuild his career when his one-year drugs ban expires, but how easy will it be for a player who has reclaimed the ‘bad boy’ tag of British tennis?
Britain’s Dan Evans has vowed to rebuild his career after being handed a one-year drug ban.
The 27-year-old was suspended after testing positive for cocaine at the Barcelona Open in April, although his suspension was only announced on Tuesday.
Evans’ ban was backdated to April 24, when he faces the ominous prospect of starting from the bottom after losing his ranking.
WHAT DID EVANS SAY?
Evans commented, via his agent:
"Following the announcement made from the ITF today, 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."
WHY WAS IT ONLY A 12-MONTH BAN?
Evans admitted taking cocaine, telling the International Tennis Federation, 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.
HARSH OR LENIENT?
Nick Kyrgios tweeted in support of Evans, saying the one-year ban was “way too much”.
Others thought he was fortunate:
HOW EASY WILL A TOP 50 RETURN BE?
Maria Sharapova was controversially handed wildcards on her return from a 15-month drugs ban, helping her glide up the rankings and into Grand Slam contention, but Evans is unlikely to be afforded the same kindness – particularly by British tournaments – given the reason for his absence.
Evans obviously can’t rival the appeal of Sharapova and his inclusion would create limited interest in tournaments outside the UK, so his return is likely to be a greater slog – perhaps harshly given his ban was for a recreational drug, however stupid it may have been.
A return to Grand Slam action is unlikely in 2018, unless the Wimbledon chiefs are feeling particularly forgiving. Still, Evans is accustomed to life on the Features circuit. In May 2015, he began a surge from 772 in the world to break into the top 100; just weeks before his positive test, he was ranked 41st.
At 27, Evans has time to produce a repeat comeback. But for a player well-versed in second chances, this really is last chance saloon. One more slip-up and his dwindling support will be extinguished.