June 19, 2024

Open Court

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One-year suspension for Dan Evans

The International Tennis Federation has finally ruled on the length of the suspension for British player Dan Evans.

Evans, 27, will serve a one-year suspension, backdated to April 24, 2017.

A urine sample the British player provided on that date at the Barcelona Open was found to contain cocaine and its metabolite.

Normally, we probably wouldn’t have even heard of this before today, when all of the protocols and the process have been completed. (See the case of Dimitar Kutrovsky below, which took two years to navigate the system)

But Evans got out front of the case, much like Maria Sharapova did when she announced in March, 2016 that she had tested positive for meldonium at the Australian Open that year.

Evans was charged with the anti-doping rule violation on June 16. He read out a statement at a nearby hotel during the Queen’s Club tournament on June 22, a few weeks before Wimbledon, in which he admitted he had failed a doping test.

Evans explains

According to the decision, Evans admitted he ingested a small amount of cocaine on April 20, while out of competition. Evans then put the leftover first in his pocket, and then in a pocket of his laundry bag. He got rid of it the next day.

evans
The facts of the case worked in Evans’ favour, downgrading a potential four-year suspension to one year.

Except … In that same laundry bag pocket, he stored some medication that he was legally allowed to take. He took those pills for five days. And on the fifth day, he tested positive for cocaine and its metabolite. 

His expert testified, and the ITF’s expert agreed, that the small amount he tested positive for had to have been taken “no more than 24 hours” before his test, “an  amount inconsistent with knowing ingestion and  consistent instead with inadvertent  contamination.”

In other words, Evans didn’t come up with a positive test because he took cocaine April 20. He tested positive because his legal medication had been stored with the leftover cocaine, and thus contaminated. So, in disposing of the remainder of the cocaine and then taking his pills on that April 24 test day, he ended up with a positive test.

The entire decision is here, if you want to read more.

From four years, to two, to one

The anti-doping rules state that a positive test “shall not be considered intentional “if the Substance is not a Specified Substance and the Player can establish that it was Used Out‐of-Competition in a context unrelated to sport performance.”

Evans could not establish that he bore “no Fault or Negligence”, because the evidence was that he was, well, sloppy. But they did allow that he “bore no Significant Fault or Negligence”, which allowed for a discretionary reduction of the two-year initial period by up to 12 months.

The ITF determined that for several reasons, a 12-month reduction was “within the range of reasonable outcomes”. Those reasons included “the time and expenses saved by reaching an agreed outcome rather than having a disputed hearing,” and Evans’s “prompt admission” of his transgression.

He can return on April 24, 2018. 

Evans forfeits more than $120,000 in prize money and 95 ranking points earned in Barcelona and afterwards,  

Kutrovsky gets two years

In another decision, the ITF imposed a two-year suspension on Bulgarian player Dimitar Kutrovsky.

Evans
(ATP file shot)

It’s a case that ran more to form in terms of procedure, as Kutrovsky’s positive test occurred almost exactly two years ago, at the Tiburon Challenger on Sept. 28, 2015.

Kutrovsky’s sample contained D-methamphetamine, which was on the WADA list as a stimulant.

He was charged November 4, and provisionally spended from Nov. 14, 2015. It was his second violation; Kutrovsky had already served a 15-month ban after testing positive for methylhexaneamine back in 2012.

Since Kutrovsky’s suspension is backdated, he has served nearly all of it. Now 30, he will be eligible to return at midnight on Nov. 13, 2017.

At this point, it seems fairly moot. Kutrovsky, who was a standout collegiate player at the University of Texas and also represented Bulgaria in Davis Cup, announced his retirement in Jan. 2016 – less than two months after he was suspended. Long established in Austin, Texas, he is in his second season as an assistant coach with the University of Texas at San Antonio’s men’s program.

“No Significant Fault or Negligence”

It’s interesting in light of the emphasis put by Maria Sharapova and her representatives relative to her own suspension that in both these cases, the ITF wrote in the decision that the player bore “No Significant Fault or Negligence for the violation.” It puts the exact significance of that terminology into context.

The fruit-flavoured tobacco Kutrovsky smoked was contaminated, costing him two years of his career)

In Kutrovsky’s case, he said the positive test came from smoking shisha (a fruit-flavored tobacco) through water pipes (also known as hookah pipes) at two bars in Sofia, Bulgaria on the night of Sept. 20.

He provided evidence to support his contention that the pipes were contaminated with D‐methamphetamine.

Had it been his first offence, Kutrovsky would have gotten a year’s suspension. Because it was his second, that was increased to two years. He also forfeited about $4,500 in prize money and 37 singles ranking points (and five doubles ranking points).

His best singles ranking of No. 293 came earlier in 2015, in May.

That decision is here, if you want to read more.

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