British tennis’ number three, Dan Evans released a statement last Friday evening at a hotel near Queen’s Tennis Club in West London, that he had been tested positive for cocaine after taking a drugs test back in April of this year. My first reaction was of shock, but he has had many downfalls in his career. However, over the last year, he has had his best season by reaching the third round in three of the last four grand slams and has dipped inside the world’s top 50. The main question is that will he come back from this?
Dan Evans said in his statement: “I made a mistake and I must face up to it… It’s really important you know this was taken out of competition and in a context completely unrelated to tennis”.
Of course, there will be severe sanctions for the 27-year-old from Solihull, but the International Tennis Federation (ITF) have obviously not stated how long he will be out of the game for. A previous case back in 2009, where Frenchman, Richard Gasquet was tested positive for cocaine after kissing a girl in a nightclub, had initially been given a two-year ban by the ITF under the terms of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). But it could be more unpleasant for Evans as Jose-Manuel Roman Gomez from Spain received a four-year ban for testing positive for the same illegal substance. There has been a wide discussion about a lifetime ban if players are caught taking drugs, and I think that is very extreme, but it is one way of stopping players from going down that path. We don’t know the full extent as to what happened with Dan Evans, so we can’t make rash opinions or conspiracies as to what happened. I am glad he came out within days of finding out the result. This might influence the length of his ban.
The complete juxtaposition of his career is astonishing. Back in April 2015, he was at one of his low career points, down in the lower tiers of tennis, at world number 772. But after he revived his career, he reached one of his highest points in his career in March 2017, reaching world no.41, and knocking out a top-10 player in Marin Čilić, from Croatia in the Australia Open earlier this year. Evans has not been short of controversy after he made comments that Aljaž Bedene is ‘not British’, as he cannot play in the Davis Cup for Great Britain after previously playing for Slovenia.
He has a very different character compared to most players on the circuit, some like that, some not so much. One of the things he makes people do, is to watch him play to see what happens. He breaks the stereotypical tennis mould. He has the potential to inspire a lot of young and upcoming tennis players in Britain, but what he has done has unfortunately put him in a bad position. If he has already been in the lower depths of the sport, then he is more than likely to come back again. If he does get presented with a two-year ban, will he want to restore his career aged 29? When he comes back, he will be at the lower ends of the future tournaments, and I doubt whether he will get the opportunities (e.g. wildcards to major events) like Maria Sharapova has after coming back from her 15-month ban.
Whatever happens, he will be missed on the circuit, as he is one of the sport’s most entertaining players on and off the court. But what he did was no question, a horrendous mistake and he must learn from it and come back even stronger.