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GB ace Evans is sorry after positive test for cocaine

 

By Tom Allnutt

British No.3 Dan Evans has been handed a provisional suspension by the International Tennis Federation after testing positive for cocaine in April. Evans, who is ranked 50th in the world, will now miss Wimbledon next month and faces a ban of up to four years.

The 27-year-old called a press conference in London yesterday where, in a 70-second statement, he said he took the substance out of competition and for reasons "completely unrelated to tennis".

Evans said: "This is a very difficult day for me and I wanted to come here in person. 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.

"I made a mistake and I must face up to it. I do not condone for one second to anyone that this was acceptable behaviour.

"I've let a lot of people down - my family, my coach, my team, sponsors, British tennis and fans.

"I can only deeply apologise from the bottom of my heart. This has been an extremely sad and humbling experience."

An ITF statement said Evans' positive test was confirmed at the Barcelona Open and the player was charged on June 16 with an anti-doping violation.

The statement added: "As positive tests for non-specified substances carry a mandatory provisional suspension, Mr Evans will be provisionally suspended from June 26, under Article 8.3.1(c) of the 2017 TADP, pending determination of the case."

The key ruling of the World Anti-Doping Code is Article 10.2.3, which says a ban for a "non-specified stimulant" like cocaine can be reduced from four to two years if "the player can establish that it was Used Out-of-Competition in a context unrelated to sport performance".

Five-time Grand Slam singles champion Martina Hingis was banned from the sport for two years in 2008 after she tested positive for cocaine.

Frenchman Richard Gasquet had been issued with the same suspension in 2009 but it was reduced to a little more than two months when the ITF's tribunal panel ruled he had taken the substance inadvertently.

LTA performance director Simon Timson said: "We are very disappointed at the news. We absolutely condemn any form of drug-taking and will support the process which needs to take place.

"We are in touch with Dan and we will offer appropriate guidance, support and education."

Evans climbed into the top 50 earlier this year after an excellent upturn in results, which included reaching the last 16 of the Australian Open. In May 2015, he had dropped as low as 772nd.

Evans was stripped of all LTA funding in 2008 after he stayed in a nightclub until the morning of a junior doubles match he was due to play at Wimbledon.

His funding was again cut in 2010 and 2012 for a perceived lack of commitment but Evans had cleaned up his act in recent years, which the results showed.

Former British Davis Cup captain John Lloyd said: "How many chances do you get?

"It looked like he had finally broken through, and now this has happened. At some stage it has to change. It is very sad."

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