Madisyn Cox Ruled Ineligible to Compete in International Swimming League

madisyn cox
Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Madisyn Cox will be ineligible to compete in the International Swimming League, a representative of the ISL confirmed to Swimming World Wednesday.

Cox was suspended from swimming last year after recording a positive test for banned substance trimetazidine. Cox later got her suspension reduced from two years to six months after proving that the positive test resulted from a contaminated supplement.

Tolis Tsagkarakis confirmed on behalf of the ISL that Cox would be barred, even though she was cleared of wrongdoing when her suspension was reduced. The general manager of an unknown U.S.-based ISL team had inquired about adding Cox their roster.

“Any athlete that has been disqualified for breaking anti-doping rules is not eligible for ISL competitions,” Tsagkarakis said. “It’s not that she was found positive for something and then cleared due to a mistake of a lab or whatever else. She still served a disqualification period, so that makes her ineligible.”

Cox had originally been denied entry to the ISL, but she appealed that decision on the basis that only the original two-year suspension was considered. After that, Cox told Swimming World, she expected to be allowed entry into the league.

“We were like, ‘OK, that’s ridiculous. They obviously didn’t do any research. They don’t know what they’re talking about.’ So I wasn’t really worried about it then,” Cox said.

She received an email Tuesday confirming the ISL’s decision, and she posted news of that to her Instagram story.

madisyn cox

“They can do whatever they want at this point,” Cox said. “They are making their own rules. I just assumed that they were going to be fair and look into it more and really see the information. I guess they decided to overlook that and just go with their own thoughts on it. I was a little disappointed in them.”

Asked directly if she considered the decision unfair, Cox responded, “Oh, absolutely.”

“Don’t get me wrong—I’m 100% anti-doping. I do not condone any kind of doping, and I think people who are dopers and who are cheaters should not be allowed to compete. However, I am not in that category.”

Also on Tuesday, Cox filed suit against the Cooper Clinic, the manufacturer of the tainted supplement that led to her suspension. A press release from her legal team said Cox is pursuing damages for the “significant reputational, financial and emotional consequences” caused by her suspension.

After the lengthy, emotional process of proving her innocence, Cox had hoped to move past the suspension and the ensuing ramifications by the end of the year. She missed out on any major U.S. national team for this year, since all those teams were selected during her suspension in 2018. The ISL decision, however, means that won’t be the case.

“It’s not the worst thing in the world, but through this whole thing, I thought everything would kind of be over by Worlds,” Cox said. “After Worlds, I didn’t really have to think about it anymore, and it would all be behind me. It’s just going to be following me a little bit longer now.”


  1. avatar

    Do you ever think that the really serious dopers tend to get away with it? Or that the ones who are caught tend to be people who either made a more or less innocent mistake or had some bad luck?

  2. avatar

    I applaud this stance by ISL. It takes emotion and intent out of it which really has no place in the discussion. Whether someone “purposefully” cheated makes no difference. As the “I had a reason” or “I didn’t mean to” or “I thought it was something else” or “It was just a smidge” arguments keeps being accepted as a mitigating factors in all of these doping cases, the anti-doping rules get watered down. The rules don’t say “purposeful.” It says the substances aren’t allowed. When I swan for the National Team we were warned NOT to take supplements for this very reason. Or even drink teas. It’s your career. She took a risk and she tested positive and whether she meant to test positive or not, really doesn’t matter. She’s the one to blame, not some supplement manufacturer who is under no obligation under the law to disclose every ingredient (which is WHY you DON’T take them.) If you want to blame someone…look in the mirror, take responsibility like a big girl and move on.

    • avatar

      The ISL argument aside there are several inaccuracies in your statement. The rules say “intent” and the code does recognize the difference in intent and non intent. Also many cases address the quantity of the substance. In Cox’s case not only was there no intent, there was no “purposefully” or “non-purposefully” cheating involved. The amount was so microscopic that there was no performance enhancement gained whatsoever. In fact that amount that would have to be ingested of this vitamin to obtain even a dose of this particular drug is impossible to do. Pharmaceutically she would have had to digested 1.5 billion vitamins a day. This class of drugs also requires a build up in the system over a period of time. Next, Supplement manufacturers are ABSOLUTELY required by law to disclose every ingredient. Please refer to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 for more information. Furthermore, this drug is illegal in the United States and it is illegal to have it in any medication, vitamin, supplement, etc.. Finally, according to this companies website their vitamins are 100% guaranteed to be pure and each raw material is quarantined, vetted and tested to ensure purity. While I think that it is very upstanding of you to have swam your whole career without taking any sort of multivitamin, most athletes do take a multivitamin. According to her statement it was physician directed to correct a dangerously low iron level.

  3. Matthew Lowe

    Dead simple to avoid this. Use the informed sport website. No excuse.

    • Matthew Lowe please read up on her fight before commenting. She was taking a legal supliment that had been contaminated at the Mfg. She had such low amounts in her blood that they know it was not doping, but still moved forward.

    • Matthew Lowe

      Charlotte Cusachs Bujoreanu I have read up on it, and I’m also an accredited UKAD advisor. It is recommended that you dont use supplements at all because this CAN happen. If you REALLY want to use supplements, informed sport batch test different products to check for this and put the results on their website. By using this service, you can check whether your manufactured batch of the supplement you want to take has been contaminated BEFORE you take it, meaning you dont have problems like this.

  4. Rob Duguay

    It’s a double edged sword.

    While my heart breaks for Madisyn that this will be a dark cloud over her career at little to no fault of her own. (She took a supplement, she didn’t pump EPO )

    I have to applaud the ISL for their “zero tolerance” attitude toward doping.

    When the 2020 games roll around will she be met with the same suspicions and derision that has plagued other swimmers who have tested positive?

  5. Andrea McHugh

    I’m with the ISL on this one. Don’t take supplements…period.