Wednesday June 15, 2016— On February 3, 2016 MMA fans around the world received news that Tim “Dirty Bird” Means was flagged for a potential USADA violation. This action called off the UFC Fight Night 83, Means ️vs Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. Immediately speculation grew and fans had an opinion. What is rarely taken into consideration is what the fighter is going thru from the moment of notification to the end of suspension.
Back pack on, ready to walk out the door to start his day, Tim’s wife told him he was facing suspension due to trace amounts of Osterine In his test sample. Thinking it was a bad joke, he told her it wasn’t funny. She repeated it and after clarification his response:
His phone began to blow up. Coaches, friends, media asking what was going on. He and Jeff Novitzky (UFC vp of athletic health and performance) got in touch and began to try to figure out where things went wrong. After 7 years with taking the same supplements something had to be wrong.
“I specifically asked if there where any banned substances in it. I googled, I went to USADAS banned substances list I did everything I could to make sure. (Before taking supplement )”
First, Tim sent a picture of all his supplements to Novitzky unsure of which product it could have been. Upon viewing the supplements which included basics like fish oil, Jeff immediately said that one of them stuck out to him. That product was from a company that Jeff had dealt with before. Being that this manufacturer didn’t always include all ingredients (a common issue in the supplement world), he told Tim to find another bottle for testing. Tim got to work on finding some.
The problem was, as soon as Tim tested “dirty” the distributor pulled all of that supplement’s off the shelf. In other recent cases such as Yoel Romero, they were able to find 3-4 batches of the product to test. Now there was none. Finding ONE unopened sealed jar was luckily enough to send for testing. Novitzky worked closely with Tim from the start. Sending videos, material to read, lawyers to contact and professors to work with.
“I feel like I now have a bachelor degree in supplements.”
When the findings came back that EVERY pill contained trace amounts of Osterine it seemed like it would be a closed deal. Mind you, Tim’s levels came back on the low-end. Meaning he didn’t have very much in his system. Only enough to register as present. The only deal that USADA had on the table was a 2 year suspension. So Tim decided to keep fighting to prove his innocence, After almost 4 months he decided to accept a guilty plea and take a 6 month suspension. Not because he was guilty but because he belongs in the cage. In June (4 months after) he decided to settle and return to action by summers end. He is already in negotiations on his next match up at the moment.
“I’m off suspension August 3rd. I hope to return to the cage this year.”
Many fans know of Tims rocky road in life. He’s been in his fair share of trouble as have many of the fighters in every MMA promotion around the globe. Since 2009 when he was paroled and ended his court commitments, he has been clean and on the right track. Focused on family and creating the life he wanted and needed, He now credits this stability and his wife and kids for helping him thru this entire debacle.
“I’ve always stepped up when I’ve messed up and apologized for it. This company and manufacturer has never taken responsibility. It’s not my opinion it’ was proven. That drug was in EVERY pill. They hung me out to dry. ”
The missed fight, which would have been a headliner with UFC main event pay, did take a toll mentally. Not concerned as much with money, as he was with being idle. He decided to pick up a day job in welding. However, he realized some of the injuries within that field are more detrimental than it was worth. Working with heavy large parts from vehicles, kept him busy but also taught him life lesson.
“It’s very humbling to go from leader of the pack in the gym to the new guy on the job bottom of the barrel.”
Trying to stay positive, he’s finding the good in the break instead of focusing on the bad. During the time off he has found more time with family and in fact on the original day of weigh-ins he was able to make a Father Daughter dance, as well as later enjoy his birthday at home. A luxury a lot of fighters miss with the grueling schedule of training and out-of-state fights. He also is able to use his new-found knowledge to help other fighters in his gym to steer clear of any issues, being that he is one of a very small group to actually show his innocence due to the major hole in FDA guideline with in the supplement industry. The downfall was more mental than anything. Warriors prepare for battle. It takes a certain mind-set to prepare for a war. When he received the news the fight was off, it took time to absorb.
“I don’t think fans realize how hard it is to turn that switch off. You’re getting ready to go into battle. You have been smashing, kicking and getting smashed and kicked. All your trained to do is go in fight, bleed win and get your hand raised. It’s very difficult to turn off that state of mind.”
When asked how he felt about the fans who so easily threw him under the bus and labeled him a PED user he said:
“There are so many, like little ants they have everyone’s life figured out but their own. You look at their profiles and they got these selfies with a dirty house it’s a mess, they all have some kind of skeletons in their closet. I’m not sure what it is, most people are happy and don’t need to judge other people.”
At the end of the day it sounds like Tim has decided to call it a learning experience. The take away for him? Jeff Novitzky is out for the best intentions for MMA. To make it an even playing field where talent and dedication prevail over easy cheats.
Tim wants to thank the fans who reserved judgement until the facts came out, his family and friends as well. It’s murky water in the supplement world. Advice to upcoming fighters and those about to hit UFC heights? Don’t trust a label. As with anything else, it’s not always as it seems.
Stay up to date with more Tim Means news with FightBookMMA.
By: Korey Lane
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