A Day In The Life With UFC's Jeff Novitzky
UFC VP/Athlete Health & Performance JEFF NOVITZKY previously served as an agent for the Food & Drug Administration, where he investigated high profile steroid cases involving athletes such as ROGER CLEMENS and LANCE ARMSTRONG. Now with the UFC, his focus has turned to making sure that fighters succeed and understand which medication and supplements they are allowed to take under the anti-doping program. Novitzky recently spoke with THE DAILY to detail what a typical day can look like for him.
6:00-7:00am: First thing I do is go right to the phone. I sleep with a phone next to my bed. We have over 500 athletes spread around 46 countries, so no matter what time of day it is, someone is going to be up. Athletes are having to make decisions on what supplements they are taking, make sure what medications they are using are proper. Often times I am returning one of those calls, texts, emails, to an athlete.
7:00-8:00am: A couple cups of coffee and then I get on social media to see if there is any type of chatter out there that relates to my department. I will make face-time calls to my fiancée, who is a federal agent in the Bay Area, and my three kids.
8:00-10:00am: I typically do an hour and a half to two-hour workout. I’m around some of the most conditioned athletes in the world, so it’s important for credibility purposes that I keep myself in shape. My workout usually consists of riding a bike. I live really close to Red Rock National Park, so I have a 20-mile loop that I use. I have some weights at home that I usually hit as well. At the end of my workout I do breakfast. It is the same thing whether I am at home or on the road. It’s Greek yogurt, a handful of almonds and some berries on top of that.
10:00am-12:00pm: I am dealing with various tasks throughout my department. That would include checking in with USADA, who administers our anti-doping program. At any given time, we have a dozen cases that are working their way through the pipeline. I am reaching out to athletic commissions where we have the upcoming fights to determine what their rules are and if they vary at all from our rules. If they do I notify the fighters, the coaches and the camps on those cards of those different rules.
12:00-1:00pm: Lunch at headquarters is usually at noon. The beautiful thing about the Performance Institute is that at any given time, we have a handful of UFC athletes that are working out and come and eat lunch in the same café that all of the employees do. When I am in Vegas I make it a point to go down there and eat. It’s an opportunity to have the five- to 10-minute chat whether you’re standing in line or sitting down at a table with an athlete.
1:00-6:00pm: I work with DONNA MARCOLINI, who is one of the original employees of the UFC. We are kind of a two-person shop, so this time includes checking in with her and divvying up responsibilities. I report to HUNTER CAMPBELL, who is our Senior Exec VP & Chief Legal Officer. If I am here in Vegas I check in with him and his office, or if I am out of town I call him and talk about ongoing cases and issues. If I am on the road, we stay in the host hotel where all of the fighters and coaches stay, and a big part of my job and Donna’s job is just developing relationships and establishing trust and credibility with the fighters, coaches and their camps. We never want a fighter to have a question and say, ‘I don’t really know Jeff or Donna too well, I’m just going to go ahead and take this supplement or medication.’ I never want that to happen.
6:00-7:00pm: It’s dinner time. If I'm in Vegas I'm usually grilling something outside, assuming it’s not boiling hot. I sit down and watch a little TV. My favorite shows on right now are “WICKED TUNA” and “DEADLIEST CATCH.” I have the fishing bug in me.
10:00pm: At the end of the day I kind of repeat what I did at the beginning of the day. I check out social media and see if there is any chatter. I check in via face-time with my fiancée and kids. She complains when I am with her, she makes me put my phone on vibrate because if you’re not a deep sleeper -- which she isn’t -- you will be waking up all night. I try to make it a point that if I hear that ring to wake up in the middle of the night. I think my record is 3:30am, B.J. PENN called. He was on Hawaii time. I actually answered the phone and answered his question.
11:00pm: Lights out, and assuming I’m not woken up in the middle of the night, I start it all over again at 6:00am.
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