This is a topic that has been on my mind since June when Evans came out and admitted that he had tested positive for cocaine last April! I can’t lie, I am a bit of an Evans fan, I love his style of play and court craft. He is his own person and is not frightened to speak his mind and can mix it with the best. Do I condone his actions on this topic? Absolutely NOT!
However, I am not having a dig at The ITF or anyone concerned with tennis whatsoever, in fact, this is the general consensus within our society these days. Drugs appear to be treated as drugs, irrespective of how they enhance or in other cases would lower your level of performance! Do people think that cocaine enhances your performance? If they do then there is a serious problem and it shows a clear lack of understanding of what is going into one’s system. I can categorically tell you that it didn’t enhance Dan Evans performance and neither would it have helped Richard Gasquet, Martina Hingis or Vitas Gerulaitis for that matter.
I am not condoning the use of party/recreational drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana to name but a few and do not think it is acceptable for tennis players to do so! Tennis players are role models at the end of the day. The fact remains the same though, they are not gaining any advantage from taking these particular substances!
So does Evans deserve to have a one year ban for taking a substance which is detrimental to his performance, when somebody like Maria Sharapova gets 3 months longer for a substance that will supposedly enhance hers? Is the year ban for setting a bad example as a role model? Or is it just treating the use of drugs as drugs irrespective of the outcome of taking them? Evans admitted to taking cocaine immediately, which was supposed to make the ban more lenient, he could have faced two years which would be more than most players who have taken performance-enhancing substances! As I say this doesn’t really get mentioned in the public domain, so to me it is a lack of understanding all round and not the fault of one individual or organisation!
In my opinion, Evans punishment should be put inline with his misdemeanour and cases should be treated separately and accordingly. This way players who are cheating and trying to gain an advantage would get a more severe ban than those who have simply just failed to live up to a role model status! Afterall if you have taken meldonium (which increases exercise capacity) have you not failed on both fronts? This isn’t a dig at Sharapova, it is just an example. Had Evans consumed cocaine in December (and not contaminated it with legitimate medicine in his wash bag) he would more likely have had it out of his system by the start of the new year and nobody would have been none the wiser. Like I say I am certainly not condoning Evans behaviour but why should the ban be the same? Would love to know peoples opinions on this!
Andy Del Potro