Former UT swimmer sues Dallas company over contaminated vitamins

Hayden Baggett

Attempting to clear her name and collect more than $1 million in damages, former UT swimmer Madisyn Cox filed a lawsuit against a Dallas-based health and wellness company last Monday saying its vitamins are responsible for her failed drug test and suspension from competition.

Cox competed on the UT women’s swimming and diving team from 2013 to 2017 and earned two Big 12 Swimmer of the Year titles, eight All-American honors and the fastest time in the world for the 200-meter individual medley in March 2018 before she was suspended. Cox is suing Cooper Concepts, Inc. for distributing multivitamins tainted with a banned substance that caused her six-month suspension last year.

In February 2018, Cox provided a urine and blood sample to the Fédération Internationale de Natation, the international organization governing aquatic sports. FINA then suspended her from competition for two years after learning she had tested positive for Trimetazidine, a performance-enhancing drug not approved for use in the U.S.

In an effort to defend her reputation, Cox hired a sports-medicine laboratory to determine the source of the Trimetazidine, according to the lawsuit.

Before testing positive, Cox listed supplements she had ingested in the last seven days ­— including a Cooper Concepts multivitamin she regularly took. The laboratory confirmed both an open and sealed bottle of these multivitamins were contaminated with the banned substance.


The lawsuit says Cox is seeking compensation for revoked competition times, the inability to earn prize money, the loss of an endorsement and private health insurance, and emotional difficulty.

“Part of Cooper (Concepts’) marketing scheme is labeling everything with the exact ingredients so that you know what you’re going to get,” Cox’s attorney Monica Cooper said. “We do estimate their mistake will be over a million dollars, at least.”

Cox’s two-year suspension was reversed and she was allowed to resume competition last August when the Court of Arbitration for Sport recognized a connection between the Cooper Concept supplement and Trimetazidine.

“The last six months have been a grave and harrowing learning experience that I would not wish on any honest, clean, elite athlete,” Cox said after her suspension was reduced. “I know that any supplement — even a multivitamin purported to contain only those ingredients specified on the label and purchased at a local
supermarket — can be suspect.”

Cooper Concepts released a statement Wednesday saying it has not yet been served its court papers.

“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.”

But Cooper, Cox’s lawyer, said on Friday the release is not enough to get the company off the hook.

“Based on some of the statements Cooper (Concepts) has made, something happened where it was a bad batch,” Cooper said. “It seems like they might be trying to shift the blame to one of their manufacturers, but at the end of the day, Cooper is the one that put their name on it.”

The UT women’s swimming and diving team did not respond to a request for comment.

Cooper Concepts has until May 15 to respond to the lawsuit and produce relevant court documents.