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.
In March 2018, Cox was initially given 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.
Although her suspension was reduced when the source of the banned drug was identified, and Cox was cleared to resume competing in September 2018, she still faces significant reputational, financial and emotional consequences. Cox was forced to miss several major events and to return fees, grants and prizes from the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Swimming. She was also unable to pursue lucrative corporate sponsorships.
In addition to that lost income, Cox and her family claimed they 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 Cox had purchased, and the unsealed bottle of the Cooper Complete vitamin Cox was taking at the time of her positive test, contained trimetazidine. Cox had allegedly taken the multivitamin to correct low levels of iron in her blood, “never suspecting it could contain a banned substance,” according to Monica Cooper and Mark Lanier of The Lanier Law Firm, based in Houston.
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.”
A native of Lubbock, and now a resident of Austin, the 23-year-old 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 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 case is Madisyn Cox v. Cooper Concepts Inc, et al, No. D-1-GN-19-002032 filed in the 250th District Court in Travis County.
Cooper Aerobics issued the following statement in response to the lawsuit:
“In September 2018, Cooper Concepts learned of Madisyn Cox’s complaint about the Cooper vitamin supplement she had been using and immediately removed it from its product line,” the statement says. “We are saddened and disappointed for Madisyn Cox and any competitions she missed. We carefully formulate ingredients to be included in our products and expect adherence to all appropriate standards.”
It also issued a general denial of the allegations in the petition.