Dan Evans, the British number four player, has been handed a one year playing ban after testing positive for cocaine on 24th April 2017. The 27-year-old player was told by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) that this incident could have been a four year ban. As cocaine would not enhance his performance and granted the substance was taken when Evans was not competing, the punishment was reduced to a single year.
According to the ITF, Evans has taken responsibility for his actions, and he claims that the substance must have mixed with his medication in his washbag. He only ingested 1-3mg of cocaine according to Dr Pascal Kintz, which he claims is consistent with Evan’s account of events as the quantity is too low to have been intentional.
Evans, who was at a career-best ranking of 41, will lose all 67 ranking points he accumulated since April and will plummet down to number 108th in the world before his suspension has even begun. He’ll also lose his prize money won during this period, which amounts to £92,205. Evans will be able to return to the tour on 24th April 2018.
But Evans is not the only player to have had brushes with sporting law, most notably Maria Russia’s Sharapova and France’s Richard Gasquet have both submitted positive drugs tests in the past. Sharapova most recently returned from a ban after she continued using the drug meldonium after it had been put on the banned substances list sent to players.
In 2009, Gasquet suffered a two and a half month ban whilst his case went to an anti-doping tribunal held by the ITF. The ban was lifted by the panel after he explained that he ingested cocaine when he kissed a stranger in a nightclub. His levels of ingestion were similarly low to Evans’.
Sara Errani, the Italian player, tested positive for Letrozole which is commonly prescribed in breast cancer cases. She claims to have mistakenly ingested her mother’s medication when visiting family, but her ban will only end on 3nd October 2017.
Drugs used to be more widely used by players with well-known stars such as John McEnroe, Andre Agassi and Mats Wilander, having taken drugs including cocaine and marijuana during their active years on tour. Serena Williams recently aired her opinion on doping in an open letter to her mother when she claimed, “I have always had far too much integrity to behave dishonestly in order to gain an advantage.”