In Brief

Dan Evans gets one-year ban for positive cocaine test

British tennis star will return to action in April 2018

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

The punishment is backdated to when the 27-year-old failed the test so the British No3 will be eligible to return to action on 24 April 2018.

Evans was tested in April this year during the Barcelona Open and the results came back two months later revealing traces of cocaine.

“This is a very difficult day for me,” Evans said at the time. “I was notified a few days ago that I failed a drugs test in April where I tested positive for cocaine. It’s really important you know this was taken out of competition and the context was completely unrelated to tennis.”

Admitting that he had “made a mistake and I must face up to it”, Evans offered a convoluted excuse for how the drug came to be in his system, explaining that it was through some authorised medication that was stored in the same pocket of his washbag in which he had previously stored cocaine.

A drugs expert, Dr Pascal Kintz, agreed that the small traces of the drug present in Evans’ system were consistent with inadvertent contamination, an explanation accepted by the ITF.

Nonetheless in a statement issued yesterday, they declared: “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.

“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.”

His fall from grace is all the more unfortunate because he was in the form of his life, rising to a career high ranking of 41 at the time of the Barcelona Open.

After a couple of lean years in which he had slipped as low as 772 in the rankings, Evans had started 2017 by reaching the last 16 of the Australian Open - his best performance in a major - and he was looking forward to competing at the Wimbledon championships, where in 2016 he had lost to Roger Federer in the third round.

Now ranked 108, Davis issued a brief statement through his agent in response to the ban, saying: “Following the announcement made from the ITF, 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.”

The Times believes the brevity of the ban “will shock the tennis community” with most commentators expecting a two-year ban, similar to the one dished out to Martina Hingis in 2007 when she was charged with taking the same drug.

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