British No4 Dan Evans has vowed to rebuild his career after being handed a one-year ban by tennis chiefs following his positive test for cocaine in April.
The suspension has been backdated to the time of the 27-year-old’s failed test at the Barcelona Open meaning he will be eligible to return to action from 24 April 2018.
Governing body the International Tennis Federation (ITF) confirmed that because cocaine is not a performance-enhancing drug and it was ingested out of competition, Evans has been given a 12-month suspension rather than a sterner penalty of, potentially, four years.
The length of the ban means that Evans, who admitted the charge at a press conference on 22 June, could be free to play, wildcards permitting, three out of next year’s four grand slams.
“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,” he said. “Following the announcement made by the ITF today, I want to thank everyone who has supported me throughout this difficult period.”
Cocaine is only banned during competition and the ITF accepted Evans’s explanation that leftover remnants of the drug had accidentally mixed with medication in the pocket of his washbag. The ITF also welcomed Evans’s prompt admission of his violation.
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 [Tennis Anti-Doping Programme].
“On the other hand, based on the circumstances of the inadvertent contamination, the ITF accepts that the player 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 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.”
Evans, who reached the last 16 of the Australian Open in January, has been forced to forfeit the £92,205 in prize money accrued and the ranking points gained between the date of his test and the announcement of the positive finding on 23 June.
Once the Briton does return to competitive action, he will have to resurrect his career from a position of weakness and will lose his world ranking, which currently stands at No108, having been as high as No41 in March.