Almost a year after he tested positive for cocaine, Dan Evans was given a helping hand in his comeback to tennis when the Lawn Tennis Association gave him a wildcard on Monday into the forthcoming Challenger level tournament in Glasgow.
The 27 year-old Midlander will return a week on Saturday at the new $100,000 (£70,000) event in Scotstoun with the governing body offering assistance rather than leaving him to his own devices.
The governing body could have sat back and let him enter a bottom-tier Futures event somewhere around the world, as he would be entitled to do with his one year suspension running out on April 23.
Dan Evans tennis comeback was given a helping hand with a wildcard for a Glasgow event
Evans tested positive for cocaine almost a year ago and will compete in Scotland on April 28
However, the decision has been taken to back him, following him coming through a number of assessments designed to prove that he is serious about getting back into the world’s top 50 and has mended his ways after a history of disciplinary issues.
It is a move that is bound to stoke controversy, although the LTA had backed itself into a corner by setting a precedent last summer – under the former regime of now departed Chief Executive Michael Downey – when it offered a wildcard to Maria Sharapova into its Birmingham WTA Tour event as she made her way back from her Meldonium ban.
Evans has been training mainly in Birmingham and Bath, and a recent sighting of him suggested that he looks in decent physical shape. His presence will enhance the appeal of an event that is costing at least £100,000 to stage but has attracted a threadbare field.
The Lawn Tennis Association set a precedent by giving a wildcard to Maria Sharapova in 2017
LTA Performance Director Simon Timson moved quickly to try and dampen the idea that the governing body were going soft on a player who tested positive during the Barcelona Open last year.
‘The LTA condemns any form of doping, which has no place in our sport,’ he said.
‘We have been having regular contact with Dan and he has shown genuine commitment to getting his tennis career back on track. We have provided a structured programme of Sports Science and Medicine support to help his journey since Dan became eligible again.
‘He has passed our agreed checks over the last six weeks and it is on this basis we have agreed to provide him with a place in the qualifying tournament for the upcoming ATP Challenger event in Scotstoun from April 28.
‘Dan has reflected on his experience over the last year, and has begun to support the development of the LTA’s anti-doping education materials to help emerging young players avoid similar mistakes. Our continued support will be entirely dependent on a non-negotiable commitment to ongoing monitoring.’
Evans, pictured at the Hopman Cup in 2017, has passed LTA tests and is believed to be in shape
In a statement Evans said: ‘I want to thank everyone who has supported me throughout this difficult period.
‘I have learned a lot about myself in my time away from the game, a sport that I love very dearly. I am now committed to training hard, resuming my career and getting back to where I was, although appreciate this will take time.
‘If there is a lesson to be learned here it’s that it is every athlete’s responsibility for what they put into their bodies. I am grateful to those who have stood by me, the fans and the LTA for the opportunity to compete again.’