British world number 50 Dan Evans has been provisionally suspended after testing positive for cocaine.
Evans, 27, provided a positive sample when he was tested during the Barcelona Open in April and the International Tennis Federation announced on Friday he will be banned with effect from June 26 “pending determination of the case”.
“This is a very difficult day for me and I wanted to come here in person to tell you guys face to face,” Evans said at a London Hotel on Friday where he took no questions but made a statement.
“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 my fans. I can only deeply apologise from the bottom of my heart. This has been an extremely sad and humbling experience.”
Martina Hingis tested positive for cocaine at Wimbledon in 2007 and was subsequently suspended for two years.
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.
“On 24 April 2017, Mr Evans, a 27-year-old player from Great Britain, provided an anti-doping sample to the TADP in association with his participation in the Barcelona Open, an ATP World Tour event, held in Barcelona, Spain,” an ITF statement read.
“That sample was analysed by a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory in Montreal, Canada, and was found to contain cocaine and its metabolite. In accordance with Article 2.1 of the TADP, Mr Evans was charged on 16 June with an Anti-Doping Rule Violation.”
Evans’ participation at Wimbledon, which starts on July 3, was already in doubt after he was seen on crutches following a calf injury during a recent tournament in Surbiton.
Birmingham-born Evans withdrew from last week’s Nottingham Open, this week’s Wimbledon warm-up event at Queen’s Club and next week’s Eastbourne tournament.
The failed drugs test is the latest controversy in bad boy Evans’ chequered career. He gave a glimpse of his talent when he beat former US Open champion Marin Cilic on the way to the last 16 at the Australian Open in January.
That was his best performance at a Grand Slam, but Evans has often been known more for his exploits off the court than any heroics on it. In 2008, he was caught at a nightclub until the early hours with doubles partner Daniel Smethurst on the night before their junior doubles match at Wimbledon.
As a result, he was stripped of all Lawn Tennis Association funding and support for four months. Four years later, he was stripped of his LTA funding again after allegedly showing a bad attitude and lacking commitment.
In 2013, he admitted: “I don’t train hard enough and don’t work hard enough day in and day out. I’m obviously pretty bad at my job.” In March 2015, he was fined for failing to turn up for a Futures event on the Wirral as his ranking slumped to 772nd in the world.
Evans appeared to have finally matured when he reached a career-high ranking of 41 earlier this year.