At least three female players have been medically disqualified from The Challenge after discovering a pregnancy mid-season. After Casey Cooper left the competition, once she found out she was expecting, a veteran publicly spoke out in support of pregnant athletes. They also admitted they thought “forcing” pregnancy testing on the players might present a “slippery slope.”
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Casey Cooper was disqualified from ‘The Challenge: All Stars 2’ due to pregnancy
The Challenge: Fresh Meat finalist Casey Cooper returned for spinoff All Stars 2 after last appearing on 2009’s The Duel, wanting to prove herself following a bad performance during her rookie season.
She played fairly well as she won a daily mission and avoided getting sent into elimination twice.
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When the contestants had to team up, she chose four-time competitor Cohutta Grindstaff over two-time champ Tyler Duckworth, noting his encouragement skills.
After one challenge with her new partner, she discovered a pregnancy. During episode 7, Casey announced she planned to leave the competition as a result. Unfortunately, her medical disqualification removed her partner from the game as well.
Ayanna Mackins says she thinks ‘forcing’ pregnancy testing might turn into a ‘slippery slope’
Following the episode, All Stars 2 competitor and OG Ayanna Mackins tweeted a link to the NCSA Strength and Conditioning Journal podcast in which she appeared to discuss pregnant athletes. She noted it was “inspired by” a few people, including Casey, who quickly responded.
Noting she preferred to know about a pregnancy before having to compete, Ayanna suggested the network “forcing testing” might become a “slippery slope” with “unintended consequences.” She then explained some women receive false-positive tests and believe it could be a “privacy” issue. The Fresh Meat finalist replied, noting that no one else would receive the results.
Additionally, Casey pointed out other factors that weighed into discovering a pregnancy mid-season, including “mental health and anxiety” and handling fans who want answers. In Ayanna’s last responses, she admitted she thought Casey had a “valid” point and does think the show should follow similar protocols it has in place for the other types of testing players undergo.
However, the veteran clarified the “pregnant athletes” movement involves “having informed women’s health practitioners available to women who compete, women’s workplace protections, and safe spaces to weigh options to compete on a case by case without being penalized.” Casey has since deleted her Twitter account.
Other competitors were disqualified after discovering pregnancies
The first known player to compete on the show while pregnant is Road Rules: Latin America alum Gladys Sanabria who appeared on Battle of the Exes in 2002.
Before her appearance, she already knew of her pregnancy, and the producers didn’t allow her to compete in several competitions. Her team ended up voting her out reasonably early into the season.
There was a total meltdown the last time Kailah and Melissa were on The Challenge ☢️
See what happens this time, on the season premiere of The Challenge: Total Madness, Wednesday April 1st at 8/7c on MTV #TheChallenge35 pic.twitter.com/ECZSdGGxIH
— The Challenge (@ChallengeMTV) March 7, 2020
RELATED: ‘The Challenge’: Natalie Anderson Isn’t the Only Woman To Compete While Unknowingly Pregnant
Robin Hibbard, who already competed in six seasons with three final appearances, discovered her pregnancy after her early elimination in The Duel 2. In 2020, veteran Melissa Reeves performed well during Total Madness, winning an elimination, daily mission, and making it to the finals.
However, she withdrew during the finals and later admitted to quitting due to an unexpected pregnancy. Most recently, rookie Natalie Anderson was disqualified from Double Agents after finding out she was expecting. The Challenge airs on MTV.