Former Lubbock High swimmer sues Dallas company over tainted vitamins

Former Lubbock High swimmer sues Dallas company over tainted vitamins
Madisyn Cox

LUBBOCK, TX (NEWS RELEASE/KXAN/CNN) - Madisyn Cox, a world-class competitive swimmer and former member of the U.S. National Swim Team, has filed a lawsuit against an affiliate of the well-known Dallas-based Cooper Clinic for negligently producing and selling its Cooper Complete Elite Athlete multivitamin, which was subsequently found to contain a banned substance.

After graduating from Lubbock High School in 2013, Cox moved to Austin, Texas to swim for UT. Cox qualified for the 2014 NCAA Championships after winning the 200-yard IM and taking 2nd in the 400-yard IM and the 200-yard breast. At the NCAA’s she qualified for the consolation final in the 200-yard IM, where she finished 16th overall, earning her first Honorable Mention All-America honor. In her sophomore season Cox made huge strides, earning more All-America honors. She was named the Big-12 Swimmer of the Year.

In March of 2018, Ms. Cox was initially slapped with a two-year suspension from competition by FINA, the global sanctioning body for swimming and diving, after routine blood and urine tests found trace amounts of trimetazidine in her system. The substance is used as a heart medication outside of the U.S. but is not approved for sale in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration.

“I really feel like I was on the up and up with my career and hitting a great stride, and this just knocked it off its rails,” Cox told Austin television station KXAN.

Although her suspension was reduced when the source of the banned drug was identified, and Ms. Cox was cleared to resume competing in September 2018, she still faces significant reputational, financial and emotional consequences. Ms. Cox was forced to miss several major events and to return fees, grants and prizes from the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Swimming, and was unable to pursue lucrative corporate sponsorships.

In addition to that lost income, Ms. Cox and her family incurred considerable expense in hiring several medical and legal experts to seek the source of the banned substance and a complete revocation of her suspension.

Testing by a World Anti-Doping Agency accredited laboratory last summer found that both a sealed bottle of the Cooper Complete vitamin Ms. Cox had purchased, and the unsealed bottle of the Cooper Complete vitamin Ms. Cox was taking at the time of her positive test, contained trimetazidine. Ms. Cox had taken the multivitamin to correct low levels of iron in her blood, never suspecting it could contain a banned substance.

The Cooper Complete brand of nutritional supplements was launched in 1997 by famed Dallas aerobics guru Dr. Kenneth Cooper. According to the company’s website, the product line “was developed by a team of physicians and scientists from leading universities alongside Dr. Cooper to address weaknesses found in many supplements.”

“At what might have been the height of her career, Madisyn paid a heavy price because she trusted a company she shouldn’t have,” said her attorney, Mark Lanier of The Lanier Law Firm in Houston. “The shock, pain and emotional trauma she has bravely faced are almost incalculable, and we will be doing everything possible to gain justice for Madisyn and her family. We also hope to force this company and this industry to do a better job in assuring the purity of their products and the proper labeling of each product’s ingredients.”

Cooper Concepts responded to the lawsuit saying it has since pulled the product and is “saddened and disappointed” that Cox missed competitions.

A native of Lubbock, and now a resident of Austin, the 23-year-old Ms. Cox was an All-American student-athlete at The University of Texas from 2013-2017. In the 2017 FINA World Championships, she earned a bronze medal in the 200 IM and a gold medal as a member of the 800M free relay team. In March of 2018, prior to her suspension, she recorded the fastest time in the world in the 200 IM at the TYR Pro Swim meet in Atlanta.

The swimmer recently graduated from University of Texas and is back to training. She’s currently working to qualify for the Olympics.

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