| Friday, August 2, 2019
It was too painful for Madisyn Cox to watch or follow last week’s FINA World Championships from her home in Texas because she knew she should have been there.
A member of the past several National Teams and a gold and bronze medalist at 2017 Worlds, Cox had her opportunity to qualify for Worlds taken away after a urine sample taken in February 2018 tested positive for trimetazidine
Originally, FINA banned her from competition for four years, but then reduced it two years and finally six months when Cox proved through intensive, expensive testing that the substance was unintentionally ingested in a multivitamin she had taken for years.
Still, the reality that she wasn’t able to compete at Phillips 66 USA Swimming National Championships last summer – which kept her off of the 2018 Pan Pacific and all of this summer’s international teams – was tough to take.
Now, at the Phillips 66 Nationals in Stanford, Calif., Cox is ready to prove she’s not only back – but, in fact, that she never left.
“It’s been a tough year – no doubt about that – but I feel like the experience has made me a better person and also a better swimmer,” she said. “When you come close to having something taken away from you, or you begin to imagine your life without something you love, like I love swimming, it changes your perspective. It makes you appreciate it that much more.”
While the last year has been challenging for Cox, she said she never lost faith in the system even after receiving an email shortly before Phillips 66 Nationals last summer that alerted her to a four-year ban from swimming.
Because a FINA panel ruled she didn’t take the trimetazidine purposely, her ban was reduced to two years.
Then, with the support of her family and friends, she appealed the decision, had the multivitamins she was taking (and had been taking for many years) tested, and the results proved a small amount of the banned substance was present.
The ban was reduced to six months, but the timing kept her from competing at Phillips 66 Nationals and ultimately from competing for a spot on the 2018 Pan Pacific Championship and 2019 World Championship teams.
She’s also been off the U.S. National team for the past year, which has impacted her funding and support – although her individual sponsor, Arena, has stood firm with her throughout the ordeal.
Still, Cox said she never lost hope – and always knew truth and justice would prevail.
“I always knew I had right on my side, and because of that, and with the support and love of everyone close to me, I fought as hard as I could to make it known that I wasn’t a cheat,” said Cox, who said she reached out to Jessica Hardy Meichtry, who went through a similar process after 2008 Olympic Trials.
“It was tough at times, but I always had faith that things would work out. It made me stronger and more determined than ever. I couldn’t have made it through this without the support of my coach, Carol (Capitani), my family and closest friends. They have been rocks for me from day one, and never doubted me.”
With the suspension completed, Cox said she is excited to swim at Phillips 66 Nationals.
She’s scheduled to compete in numerous events – including her specialty 200 individual medley event. She’s also swimming the 100 and 200 breaststrokes and 400 IM.
She won the 200 breast on the second night of competition.
With a renewed outlook about swimming and life, she said she is charged not only for Nationals but also for everything coming between now and next summer’s Olympic Trials in Omaha.
Let’s just call it the Madisyn Cox redemption, chip-on-her-shoulder tour.
“Everyone in swimming – my friends and coaches, especially – were supportive throughout and told me they knew I did nothing wrong,” said Cox, who plans to attend medical school after 2020 Trials (and Olympics). “So, it will be great to see everyone and compete knowing it’s all behind me. This experience has made me a smarter, more wary, but still trusting person and swimmer.
“Sometimes bad things happen to good people, but your true character shows through based on how you respond to it. I hope I have set an example for others who have and will experience what I have.”