Evans expressed her frustrations with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). GETTY IMAGES

Bahamian double Olympian Joanna Evans expressed her frustrations with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Monday via social media. 

This came after her original two-year doping suspension was extended to four years following her appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Evans was barred from participating in the sport starting from 14 February, 2022, following a positive test for the prohibited substance Clostebol.

She claimed to have encountered it in September 2021 while competing at an International Swimming League (ISL) event in Naples, Italy. Originally, the Grand Bahama native was set to regain eligibility for competition in February, but the recent ruling has left her disheartened.

“I have always been an avid supporter of anti-doping campaigns. At the beginning of my nightmare, I believed in the system but as time went on it became increasingly frustrating and unfair," she said on Instagram.

"The system failed me and has led me to conclude that honesty was not my best policy when dealing with these governing bodies. The decision to ban me for 4 years, rendered March 2024, after my hearing with CAS in October 2023 is unconscionable and, in my opinion, alarmingly vicious."

The doping controversy unfolded when the multiple-time national record holder received a tube of Trofodermin in 2021 from a local pharmacy while in Naples. This was to treat a cut she sustained from what she described as a "jagged, rusty balcony at the hotel," as stated by Evans in a previous statement. According to Evans, she was unaware that the cream contained the banned substance Clostebol, which she used again on 30 October 2021, in Austin, Texas, after sustaining a gash on her knee from a fall on a concrete pavement.

Bahamian Olympic swimmer Evans' initial two-year ban has been increased to four-years. GETTY IMAGES
Bahamian Olympic swimmer Evans' initial two-year ban has been increased to four-years. GETTY IMAGES

While Evans maintained that she did not intentionally use the banned substance to enhance her performance, the International Testing Agency (ITA) proposed a three-year ban instead of the "warranted" four-year ban if she agreed within three weeks of being notified in June 2022. She opted not to accept the offer and chose to pursue an appeal, which she ultimately lost. On Instagram, she conveyed her disappointment with the treatment she experienced throughout the appeal process.

“My swimming career has been destroyed by WADA’s legal team who disregarded the truth, misrepresented the facts, twisted my words to suit its agenda, showed hostility and intimidation toward my witness and conjured up highly unlikely scenarios to pursue a ‘win’ and not the truth. They made it impossible for me to be viewed in a realistic light and dehumanised me with cruel accusations, character annihilation and disrespect. This line of attack is just morally wrong in these circumstances where ‘ethics’ is proclaimed to be of paramount importance,” she continued.

Amidst the challenging period, the Bahamas Aquatics Federation (BAF) stood by Evans, offering their support. The 26-year-old emphasised that she fought to uphold both her integrity and the reputation of Bahamas Aquatics.

“I did everything within my power to prove that my use of a banned substance was accidental and unintentional. Anyone willing to research my history and professional background will see that I came from very humble beginnings with limited financial resources and I have persevered unceasingly to stand on my personal and competitive reputation. I fought for the truth and to defend my integrity and the reputation of Bahamas Aquatics. I was stunned at the cruel irony with which I was rewarded for my full transparency and my naive honesty,” Evans posted.

Amid what she described as a "nightmare," the Bahamian swimmer asserted that she was instructed to contribute towards WADA's expenses related to the arbitration proceedings. She is a highly accomplished athlete, holding national records in the 200, 400, and 800m freestyle events. Furthermore, she has represented her country at two Olympic Games, first debuting in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, followed by her participation in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Evans had aspirations of competing in her third Olympics, but the devastating decision has left her deeply wounded, to say the least. “Nothing short of a reversal of my sanction can begin to rectify the direct and collateral damage that this unfair treatment has done. It is extremely hurtful and callous to delay the decision making and then subsequently increase the ban from two to four years after I had painstakingly adhered to all the stipulations of the original ban and trained alone for almost two years to be in the best shape possible to fulfill my dream of going to Paris 2024.

"I feel victimised by the system I trusted. It was on WADAs insistence that my ban was increased to 4 years. What point is WADA proving by destroying one honest athlete from a small country while overlooking 23 positive tests from Olympic giant China?” she concluded.