2017 World Champion Madisyn Cox Given 2-Year Doping Suspension

United States National Team swimmer Madisyn Cox has been given a 2-year doping suspension after Trimetazidine appeared in an out-of-competition doping test. The test was conducted on February 5th, 2018. Her period of sanction begins on March 3rd, 2018, the date of her last race, and ends on March 2nd, 2020.

Trimetazidine is classed by the World Anti-Doping Association as a Class S4.5.3 substance – Hormones and Metabolites. The substance can be used medically to treat tinnitus and dizziness in some countries, though it has fallen out-of-favor in those cases, and angina (chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart). The latter is the reason that China’s Olympic champion and World Record holder Sun Yang claimed to have been taking it when he was suspended in 2014The substance has been a subject of fluctuating status within the World Anti-Doping Code over the last 5 years.

In a statement released to SwimSwam on Friday morning, Cox says that the positive test was for an “unfathomably low” amount, and that she had “never heard of this substance prior to receiving the test results.” A FINA anti-doping panel found that Cox is “an honest, very hardworking and highly credible athlete who is not a ‘cheat,’ and also said that they believed her testimony to be true. That allowed them to reduce the sanction from 4 years to 2 years.

The panel also found, however, that she was not eligible for a further reduction based on a “no fault” finding because she could not prove a “likely source” of the substance.

Cox says that she believes that she ingested trace amounts of the substance through drinking tap water in Austin, Texas, saying that “the presence of pharmaceuticals like Trimetazidine in U.S. drinking water is well documented,” but that the levels in Austin had not been sufficiently studied. While a study on the tap water in her apartment came back clean, FINA says, that is not conclusive enough to prove or disprove contamination. Cox does say that she is looking into whether it’s possible to have those tests done, and whether to appeal her case to the CAS. FINA also noted that because Trimetazidine is not FDA approved in the United States, it ‘may not be as widely used’ as other drugs, indicating skepticism about whether it would be found in municipal water supplies – which has been a well-documented finding over the last decade.

“I have not taken and will never take short cuts to be the very best,” Cox said. “I have been training this entire past year to compete at U.S. Nationals with the goal of representing my family, team and the United States at the Pan Pacific Championships and the 2019 FINA World Championships.”

Cox, who swam collegiately at the University of Texas, is a member of the 2017-2018 U.S. National Team as a result of performances in the 200 and 400 IM. At the 2017 World Championships, she won gold as part of the American 800 free relay and bronze individually in the 200 IM.

Cox had been ominously absent from meets since the Pro Swim Series in Atlanta in early March, in spite of being entered in several meets and not racing. Cox is entered in 5 events for US Nationals, including as the #2 seed in the 200 IM, but barring an unprecedentedly-fast appeal to the CAS, won’t be eligible to race.

Her results from that Pro Swim Series stop in Atlanta are forfeited, including the prize money she took via two wins and a third-place finish, adding up to $2,200.

Cox is the 2nd member of the U.S. National Team to be sanctioned this season for doping, along with Amanda Kendall. A member of the U.S. Junior National Team, Matthew Willenbring, has also been sanctioned. The relevant anti-doping authorities (USADA and FINA) have declared the ingestion to  be mitigated to reduced sentences from the maximum 4 years in all 3 cases.

Cox’s Full Statement:

FINA made public earlier today that I’ve been sanctioned for two years because I unintentionally ingested a prohibited substance, Trimetazidine, an unfathomably low amount of which was detected in an out-of-competition urine sample provided on February 5, 2018. I had never heard of this substance prior to receiving the test results.

The FINA Hearing Panel reviewed all of the evidence, including lab reports demonstrating very low parts per billion concentrations of the prohibited substance in my sample. A world -renowned biochemist who reviewed my case compared the extraordinarily low level detected equal to “a pinch of salt in an Olympic size swimming pool.” At such a trace level, the substance provided me with no performance benefit of any kind.

The FINA Hearing Panel considered (1) the low level in my urine, (2) that no Trimetazidine was detected in my hair sample, and (3) my in-person testimony. The Panel found that I was “an honest, very hardworking and highly credible athlete who is not a ‘cheat.’” They believed my testimony, stating that my case was “highly credible.” As a result, the Panel reduced the sanction from a potential four year period to two years – which has happened only one other time in history.

Unfortunately the Panel determined that I was not eligible for a finding of “No Fault” because I could not prove the “likely source” of the 0.1 ng/ml of Trimetazidine in my urine. While the scientific expert who reviewed my case believes that I unknowingly ingested the Trimetazidine through tap water consumed the night before the test, the Panel determined that more scientific evidence was needed to prove this. The presence of pharmaceuticals like Trimetazidine in U.S. drinking water is well documented, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has studied the levels of pharmaceuticals in the drinking water of certain cities across the United States. Also unfortunately for me, there haven’t been any studies like this done in Austin, Texas, where I live and train.

The Panel noted that “contaminated water” was certainly a possible source of the banned substance, but it could not find that it was the “likely source” without more testing data on the presence of pharmaceuticals in the Austin, Texas water supply. I currently am looking into whether such testing is possible. I also am considering whether to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Since my test result, I have learned the hard way about the harshness of the anti-doping rules. Because a microscopic amount of a prohibited substance was detected in my urine, I am sanctioned for two years despite the FINA Hearing Panel finding that my ingestion was unintentional and that I am not a “cheat”.

I am devastated. I honestly believed through this entire process that I would receive a No Fault ruling, due to the strength of my case, a completely clean hair sample, dozens and dozens of clean tests and a history of carrying myself with honor and integrity throughout my academic and swimming career. I stand on my personal and competitive reputation.

I have not taken and will never take short cuts to be the very best. I have been training this entire past year to compete at U.S. Nationals with the goal of representing my family, team and the United States at the Pan Pacific Championships and the 2019 FINA World Championships.

As I endure these next weeks and months, I would anticipate and appreciate your understanding, and hope you respect that this statement is complete and stands as my only public comments at this time.

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Jeff Giles
5 years ago

If the trimetazidine is from ingestion of municipal drinking water as she claims, what what were the urinary levels of all of the other POPs/PCPs in the water she drank? Saying that Austin hasn’t been studied by the EPA is a cop-out. What, is Austin the per capita leader in trimetazidine consumption in the U.S.?

5 years ago

LMBO the water. Better be careful you might get pregnant from drinking that water

5 years ago

Whether she purposely cheated or not, who knows? Of course there’s always a chance she just got unlucky. All I’m saying is that the excuses are the same all over the world, but the people on this board are more apt to give her a pass because she’s American than someone from somewhere else especially if that someone else is non-white. That’s racism.

5 years ago

I do believe her!

SumTing Wong
Reply to  Cayley
5 years ago

If that is true then Americans are going down to Mexico in huge numbers to have this drug prescribed. It is in use in Mexico France & is a very economical maintenance drug for ppl with angina . Currently it lives in Non Regulatory Land where all effective cheap drugs live & are not allowed to enter the pristine mega buck US pharmapalooza.

There are 8 currently t& proposed rials in outsider institutions trying to get the necessary stats together but they are fighting an uphill battle . The good news is Russia may be using it after a successful trial of 960 ppl showedgood results & no side effects on an 8 week trial. It is looking a lot… Read more »

Reply to  SumTing Wong
5 years ago

I’m not sure that anyone should take someone with an ethnically offensive screen name seriously. I think you pretty much negate yourself off the bat.

Reply to  SumTing Wong
5 years ago

You do realize the drug can be brought to the US by people other than Americans going to Mexico or France to get it, right? Not only was the amount detected an unfathomably low amount that it had no performance enhancing value, but it was tested Feb 5- Ms. Cox swam a race a month later…pretty sure it really had no performance enhancing value a month later, which would mean her ‘super back half’ was a result of hard work in training on Ms. Cox’s part.

SumTing Wong
Reply to  Notdrowning
5 years ago

That’s an awful lot of non Americans bringing in the drug to Austin tho & just that week .. If they are bringing in undocumented drugs , they are not the best & healthiest being sent .

Reply to  SumTing Wong
5 years ago

Explain how New Jersey and Mexico have found it in their water supply. Explain how opioids are showing up in fish. Since one of the municipal water supplies for Austin is Lake Travis, a recreational lake, I’m sure there’s lots of things floating in there that aren’t supposed to be there.

5 years ago

So they can convict cox for essentially a trace amount thats nothing but can’t catch and convict any russians? ye shiwen? PEOPLE ARE SKIPPING DRUG TEST AND GOT A LESSER SENTENCE . WADA IS CORRUPT

SumTing Wong
Reply to  NCSwimmer
5 years ago

Could you be more equitable & allocate 4 big letters & give them to Cox , Russians & Ye Shiwen ? It looks a little unbalanced .

bear drinks beer
Reply to  NCSwimmer
5 years ago

It’s not fair to put Ye Shiwen in the same category with the convicted DOPERS.🙂

5 years ago

There’s a growing body of research about drugs that can be found in drinking water. Every time someone flushes pills down the toilet drugs get introduced to our drinking water. I’ve done beach cleanups on Lake Michigan where we find lots of used syringes, not far from the intake valves of Chicago’s drinking water. It is a potential public health crisis, but it isn’t well known, and it’s going to get worse under the current administration and EPA. I found one report saying the EPA requires water treatment plants to test for 90 contaminants, but not a single pharmaceutical is included on that list. There seems to be pretty consistent evidence of drugs in our drinking water, but in most… Read more »

Reply to  Wethorn
5 years ago

How much of that research indicates that there’s a significant presence of prescription drugs that are neither FDA approved nor recreational in our water supply? Aka Trimetazidine? Seems like a stretch that enough Americans are using non-approved angina drugs that it shows up in our water supply in levels high enough to cause a positive test lol. We’re not talking about cocaine or heroine here.

Reply to  SwimObserver
5 years ago

It has been found in the water supply in New Jersey and Mexico

Tim Wheyster
5 years ago

Another swimmer getting the hang of it and shooting the lights out in the twilight of their career.

Guilty as charged….

5 years ago

Well once you accept all the past lies from past swimmers excuses (supplements, prescriptions etc).
Waiting for that one swimmer to say “You got me”

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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