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USADA suspends UFC’s Abdul-Kerim Edilov 15 months for meldonium

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Abdul-Kerim Edilov has yet to make his UFC debut, and he’ll have to wait longer still.

The Chechen light heavyweight has been given a 15-month suspension by USADA for testing positive for the prohibited substance meldonium in an out-of-competition drug test back in January, the UFC’s anti-doping partner announced Friday. His suspension is retroactive to Jan. 7, 2016, the date the sample was collected. Edilov will be eligible for his first UFC fight in April.

Meldonium, which has been prevalent in Eastern European athletes, was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Jan. 1, 2016. Two other UFC fighters, Islam Makhachev and Daniel Omielanczuk, tested positive for the drug earlier this year. USADA found no fault with Makhachev, because its investigation showed he ingested meldonium prior to Jan. 1. Omielanczuk remains under investigation, but he was not provisionally suspended for testing positive for the substance.

The USADA investigation into Edilov turned up that he used meldonium after Jan. 1, per the release. The agency accepted that Edilov’s claim that he was using the substance for medical reasons and only taking a small dose — not for performance-enhancing reasons — but he would have needed a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) to take it and never applied for one.

Edilov (16-4) was supposed to make his UFC debut back in January against Francimar Barroso, but suffered a torn meniscus and had to pull out of the fight. Edilov, 24, is a solid prospect at Akhmat Fight Club. He was won 10 straight fights, all of them by finish, in Russia.

Meldonium was also the drug Maria Sharapova failed a drug test for earlier this year, causing her to be suspended from tennis for two years.