Dan Evans returns to tennis after cocaine ban
"It's a shocking drug and it's not just in sport, it's a life-ruiner," says the Briton
Last Updated: 28/04/18 11:43am
Dan Evans has vowed to never repeat the "worst thing I've ever done" ahead of his comeback from a one-year ban for cocaine use.
Evans had hit a career-high world ranking of No 41 just a month before he tested positive for the drug in April last year.
The 27-year-old refused to go into the circumstances surrounding him taking cocaine, but the aftermath left a path of destruction throughout all parts of his life.
"It's a shocking drug and it's not just in sport, it's a life-ruiner," he said from the Scotstoun Leisure Centre, where he will make his comeback at the Glasgow Challenger this weekend.
"It's the worst thing I've ever done. It's a shocking thing to do, it's let down many people. Luckily I was never in the position where I needed to get help for that drug but I won't ever take it again and it's that simple.
"If you saw the ruins it left behind just failing a drugs test never mind what that does to people, you'd be pretty confident I won't take that drug again.
"But then everyone's got to move on from what I did as well. It's been a year now since everything happened, so I think it's a good time to just draw a line."
Now unranked, he needed a wild card from the Lawn Tennis Association just to enter qualifying in Glasgow, with the governing body's support conditional on the former British number two passing a number of physical tests, agreeing to random drug testing and contributing to anti-doping education.
Evans has worked his way up virtually from the bottom before but admits this scenario feels very different, not least because he did not pick up a racket between learning of his failed test last June and when he was allowed to set foot in official training facilities again two months ago.
Whiling away the hours proved difficult, with Evans spending most of the time living with his girlfriend Aleah in Cheltenham.
He said: "I was saying to my girlfriend how long a working day actually is. Daytime TV is not good. I was probably the worst boyfriend there has ever been for nine months.
"It wasn't easy, there's some terrible moments in those nine months. I would never want anyone to go through what having a ban is like and it's my own fault, don't get me wrong."
Breaking the news to those around him, and then revealing to the world what he had done at a hastily-convened press conference at a Novotel in London last June, were among the toughest moments.
"It's just a terrible conversation, whoever it's with," he said. "The family's the obvious one but all the other people, the embarrassment you put your girlfriend's mum (through), her parents, that's not what they want their daughter round is it."
Evans still has time on his side as he tries to plot his way back to where he feels he belongs, but there were many moments when a return to professional tennis seemed too far away to contemplate.
"Nobody can sit there in that position and say 'I will be back'; if they say that they are lying to your face," he said. "I had doubts every day and there will still be doubts until there are two digits next to my name."
Evans admitted he was "terrible" at his first practice but he has been happy with how his tennis and fitness have come back and now the test will be a match scenario.
The level in Glasgow, where the main draw field is ranked between 105 and 343, should hold no fears if Evans is anywhere close to where he was before the ban.
He said: "Playing here, people won't fear me anymore. I have to earn that respect again. It's all new. But it also feels exciting as well and, you never know, I might sit here in a year or two and it might have been a blessing in disguise to sort all my stuff out.
"At the start of it you think how are you going to get out of it all. Someone said: 'It's not as bad as you first think'. And it isn't. It was a terrible thing, but things come together in the end and hopefully they have now.
"I could never look back when I was there in the Novotel and think I would see this now. So it's pretty good."
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