UFC Fighters Flagged for Meldonium Face Anti-Doping Violations, but Not Suspension

July 1, 2016

Two UFC athletes that were flagged for violating the promotion Anti-Doping Policy have been granted a reprieve.

Islam Makhachev and Daniel Omielanczuk were both notified of a potential violation stemming from the United States Anti-Doping Agency detecting meldonium in their systems. USADA administers the UFC’s anti-doping program.

Makhachev was flagged following the UFC on FOX 19 weigh-in in April. He was removed from the fight and his bout with Drew Dober was cancelled.  Omielanczuk was much luckier, as his notification came on Friday and will not affect his upcoming UFC Fight Night 91 bout in July.

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Although meldonium was added to the World Anti-Doping Association’s prohibited substances list as of Jan. 1, 2016, there has been much controversy over sanctions against athletes caught with small amounts of it in their systems. There is little longterm data to determine how long after its use that meldonium remains in an athlete’s system.

Islam MakhachevDue to this fact, WADA has issued a statement of guidance in how to proceed with athletes who return results for a small amount of meldonium in their systems.

“In the case of meldonium, there is currently a lack of clear scientific information on excretion times. For this reason, a hearing panel might justifiably find (unless there is specific evidence to the contrary) that an athlete who has established on the balance of probabilities that he or she ingested meldonium before 1 January 2016 could not reasonably have known or suspected that the meldonium would still be present in his or her body on or after 1 January 2016. In these circumstances, WADA considers that there may be grounds for no fault or negligence on the part of the athlete.”

If an athlete takes meldonium on or after Jan. 1, it is a clear violation, which is to be punished according to the ruling body’s policy. If the test results indicate that meldonium was likely administered prior to Jan. 1, the athlete is still in violation of WADA’s prohibited substances list, but WADA’s guidance is that any punishment be stayed until such time as there is more scientific data to guide such cases.

In regard to Makhachev and Omielanczuk, Makhachev has been immediately reinstated. Omielanczuk has been flagged for a potential anti-doping policy violation, but will not face suspension, pending WADA’s future guidance in the matter.

Omielanczuk is scheduled to fight Alexy Oleinik at UFC Fight Night 91 on July 13 in Sioux Falls, S.D.

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