UPDATE (11:30 p.m.): Phil Sheridan has the most thorough piece. Please read it.
He spoke with Romero, who concentrates on the fact that he’s defending his pride by taking the suspension and speaking out before Major League Baseball officially announces it tomorrow.
Then there are more details on the drug:
Romero said he went to the store to look for a supplement in July, the time of year he typically starts weight training again. He went to the shelf where his usual supplement was stocked and noticed a new product, 6-OXO Extreme, next to it. Because the familiar supplement required him to take eight large pills a day, he was intrigued by the other product.
The Major League Baseball Players Association has told players that supplements purchased in U.S. retails stores should be safe and within the guidelines of baseball’s drug-testing program. The union acknowledged giving that advice in a letter it sent out to players and their advisers in November. That letter, which arrived too late to help Romero, informed players that three over-the-counter supplements were found to create positive tests under baseball’s drug program.
In July, Romero showed the new supplement to Phillies strength coach Dong Lien, who recommended that Romero get a second opinion before using it. Romero then showed it to his personal nutritionist, “the guy I’ve been working with since I’ve been in major-league baseball,” Romero said.
That nutritionist checked the product’s label and saw nothing on MLB’s banned list. Romero began taking the supplement at that point.
Meanwhile, according to the arbitrator’s report, Lien sent a sample of the supplement to MLB for testing. The tests showed the supplement contained a substance that could result in a positive drug test. A copy of those results was sent to commissioner Bud Selig’s office in July.
Considering it was the first time a banned substance was found in an FDA-regulated, over-the-counter supplement – one available to every major-leaguer and millions of youths – that should have sounded alarms. But no one from MLB, the players’ association or the Phillies told Romero that there was a problem with the supplement.
Major League Baseball has suspended JC Romero 50 games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Romero said on Monday that he bought a supplement from a GNC store in Cherry Hill, N.J., last July. The Players Association had told players the supplement was acceptable, but now the left-hander will receive a suspension and lose $1.25 million.
“I still cannot see where I did something wrong,” Romero said. “There is nothing that should take away from the rings of my teammates. I didn’t cheat. I tried to follow the rules.”
According to the article, the Players Association notified players the drug Romero purchased was legal, but in November, the PA sent a letter to players telling them that wasn’t true.
“The season is a grind,” Romero said. “When you’re a middle reliever, you have to be ready to get up and down and pitch every day. Everyone takes something. Some guys drink coffee, others supplements. We try to make sure they’re all legal. I certainly did.”