Madisyn Cox, top U.S. IM swimmer, argues 2-year ban due to tap water

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Madisyn Cox, the 2017 World bronze medalist in the 200m individual medley, was banned two years for testing positive for a substance she believed she ingested via tap water.

The banned substance is Trimetazidine, a medication used to treat angina, and Cox reportedly said “a world-renowned biochemist” equated her level of the substance to “a pinch of salt in an Olympic size swimming pool.”

“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 [FINA doping] panel determined that more scientific evidence was needed to prove this,” Cox said, according to Swimswam.com. “The presence of pharmaceuticals like Trimetazidine in U.S. drinking water is well documented.”

Cox’s backdated suspension runs through March 2, 2020 and would keep Cox out of next week’s U.S. Championships, the Pan Pacific Championships in August and the 2019 World Championships. Cox is the top-ranked U.S. 200m IM swimmer this year.

“I am devastated,” she said, according to Swimswam. “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.”

Her positive test was Feb. 5.

A FINA doping panel said a possible four-year ban was reduced to two years because the amount of the drug found was low, Cox’s “moral character” and the “credible nature” of her testimony.

“The panel is prepared to take the highly unusual step of accepting that Ms. Cox did not act with intention in the absence of proof regarding the source of the Trimetazidine that came into her body,” according to a press release. “However the Trimetazidine did enter her body (which is admitted), it was unintentional. In other words, Ms. Cox did not intend to dope and the adverse analytical finding (AAF) that has been admitted was unintentional.

“Cox is an honest, very hardworking and highly credible athlete who is not a ‘cheat.’ She is, unfortunately, caught in a dilemma.”

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MORE: U.S. swimming rankings going into nationals

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here with redactions.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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