What is meldonium, the banned substance that Islam Makhachev got flagged for after his sole MMA Loss?

UFC lightweight title challenger Islam Makhachev was once suspended by USADA for using meldonium. Surprisingly, a lot of Russian athletes popped for the same reason after it was prohibited in 2016. However, a lot of people still don’t know what meldonium is.

To put it simply, meldonium is a medication that helps increase the blood and oxygen flows throughout the body by expanding the artery. This is quite obviously useful to combat several heart problems.

Meldonium was on USADA’s list as far back as 2016. One of the publicized cases was when professional tennis player Maria Sharapova was suspended due to meldonium on her blood test.

A lot of Russian athletes were flagged for meldonium within six months of it declared. One of the athletes was UFC lightweight Islam Makhachev.

The Dagestani was pulled from clash against Drew Dober one day before the showdown.

Makhachev claimed he underwent a heart surgery and was prescribed meldonium. He explained the situation and USADA decided that Makhachev is not at fault for the violation.

The topic was brought back again during a recent interview ahead of his first title bout  at UFC 280 against Charles Oliveira this weekend. He recalled that getting flagged gave him a worse feeling than suffering his first MMA loss.

“Later I had problems with USADA, I was worried more about that… Even though it was just meldonium. Russian athletes on national teams were getting it like vitamins… Every national team was giving mildronate [meldonium]. I still think it’s systemic prejudice against Russian athletes.” Makhachev said.

He added, “I was worried because I was given a ban because of that substance, I thought it would affect everyone on the team. That affected me more than the loss. I was taking mildronate after my heart surgery. I showed them the prescriptions and the problem was resolved.”