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USADA lifts Islam Makhachev's provisional suspension, still investigating drug-test failure

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Islam Makhachev can return to UFC action, MMA Fighting has learned.

USADA has lifted Makhachev's provisional suspension, but the UFC's anti-doping partner will continue to investigate his failed drug test, according to Makhachev's manager Ali Abdel-Aziz. That means Makhachev is free to compete in the Octagon while the rest of the adjudication process is going on.

FOX Sports was the first to report the news. MMA Fighting confirmed the information with USADA.

Makhachev, 24, failed a drug test for meldonium and was pulled from competition the day before he was supposed to face Drew Dober at UFC on FOX 19 in April. Makhachev's attorney Howard Jacobs argued that his client had surgery on his heart in 2014 and was prescribed the banned substance by a doctor.

After recently receiving the adequate documentation from Makhachev's doctor, USADA decided to give Makhachev the choice to have his provisional suspension lifted. Makhachev agreed, Abdel-Aziz said.

Had Makhachev chose to stay suspended during the rest of the results management process, the Dagestan native's ban would be retroactive to April 15, the date he was originally provisionally suspended. But because he chose to have the suspension lifted, any further sanction will not take into account the period of time he has already been ineligible.

Meldonium was just added to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned list on Jan. 1. There are studies ongoing about how long the substance stays in a fighter's system and it's possible Makhachev took meldonium before it was prohibited. USADA took that and the relatively low amount detected in his system into account when deciding to lift Makhachev's provisional suspension.

UFC fighter Daniel Omielanczuk was notified by USADA of a potential anti-doping violation Friday, but he won't be provisionally suspended and will remain on the UFC Fight Night 91 card against Alexey Oleinik.

Many athletes from Eastern Europe, including Maria Sharapova, have tested positive for meldonium since it was put on the WADA list. There is currently a debate going on about whether or not it enhances performance in athletes. Sharapova is fighting her suspension.

Makhachev (12-1) is a longtime training partner and relative of UFC lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov. He is 1-1 in the UFC, coming off a first-round knockout loss to Adriano Martins last October at UFC 192.

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