Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Sports NewsMayfield's Mutterings: Illini adventure continues

Romero, Mitre suspended 50 games each by MLB

Send a link to a friend

[January 07, 2009]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Phillies reliever J.C. Romero was suspended for the first 50 games of next season on Tuesday after testing positive for a banned substance contained in a supplement developed by convicted BALCO chemist Patrick Arnold.

DonutsYankees minor league pitcher Sergio Mitre also was suspended for the first 50 games of next season after testing positive for a banned substance in an over-the-counter supplement.

The suspensions, upheld by arbitrator Stephen Goldberg, triggered an angry response from the Major League Baseball Players Association.

"We strongly disagree with the commissioner's discipline and with the arbitrator's decision," Michael Weiner, the union's general counsel, said in a statement. "Mitre and Romero both legally purchased nutritional supplements from national chain stores in the United States. Nothing on the labels of those supplements indicated that they contained a trace amount of a substance prohibited under Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program."

Rob Manfred, executive vice president of labor relations in the commissioner's office, said the players were at fault.

"Certainly Major League Baseball along with the players' association has consistently told players there's risk associated with nutritional substances purchased over the counter," Manfred said.


Manfred said the players failed to use supplements that had been approved under a certification program the sport began in 2006, and that Phillies strength and conditioning coordinator Dong Lien had warned Romero not to use the supplement. Posters in each major league clubhouse give players a hot line to call to check on substances, and Manfred said Romero did not use the hot line.

Weiner saw it differently.

"Their unknowing actions plainly are distinguishable from those of a person who intentionally used an illegal performance-enhancing substance," he said.

Romero, who earned two wins in Philadelphia's World Series victory over Tampa Bay last season, used 6-OXO, developed by Ergopharm, which is led by Arnold. The company's Web site touts it as "the new gold standard for testosterone elevation."

Arnold pleaded guilty in 2006 to one count of conspiracy to distribute steroids as part of the federal prosecution of the Bay Area Laboratory-Cooperative. Arnold, who created the previously undetectable steroid "the clear," was sentenced to three months in prison and three months' home confinement

Mitre tested positive for Halodrol.

Both supplements contain Androstenetrione as a listed ingredient and apparently were contaminated with Androstenedione, the substance Mark McGwire used in the 1990s. While Androstenedione was banned by baseball in 2004, Androstenetrione is not specifically listed as a prohibited substance.

"I still cannot see where I did something wrong," Romero was quoted as saying by "There is nothing that should take away from the rings of my teammates. I didn't cheat. I tried to follow the rules."

Mitre said in a statement issued by his agent, Paul Cobbe, that he purchased the supplement at a GNC.

[to top of second column]

"I did take the supplement in question, and accept full responsibility for taking it," Mitre said. "It contained a `contaminant' amount of an illegal, performance-enhancing drug. This was not listed as an ingredient on the packaging, should not have been in the supplement and certainly should not have been available for legal purchase at a store. Despite this, I do accept my punishment because, as a professional, I have a responsibility for what I put into my body."

Mitre is with the New York Yankees' Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Triple-A team after spending 2008 on the Florida Marlins' disabled list. He had elbow ligament replacement surgery in July 15 and reached an agreement with the Yankees in November.

"It's kind of a bitter pill to swallow," Cobbe said. "He made a false assumption that stuff you buy at a GNC is legal. He purchased an illegal drug legally."

If the Phillies have no postponements during the first two months of the season, Romero would be eligible to return June 1 and the suspension would cost him $1,245,902 of his $4 million salary.

Mitre is not expected to pitch until the second half of the season and will serve his suspension while on the disabled list. His contract with the Yankees calls for a salary of $40,000 a month while in the minors and $1.5 million for the season while in the majors, so the suspension will cost Mitre about $70,000.

Romero was the winning pitcher in Game 3 of the World Series and the clinching Game 5 for the champion Phillies. A key member of Philadelphia's strong bullpen, he went 4-4 with a 2.75 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 59 innings. He appeared in 81 games and had one save.

In the postseason, Romero allowed only two hits in eight scoreless appearances spanning 7 1-3 innings.

Romero is expected to report to spring training with the Phillies next month and is allowed to pitch in exhibition games. He'll likely stay in Florida for extended spring training.

"We're very supportive of what Major League Baseball has done and the policies it has implemented," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said during a conference call.

[Associated Press; By RONALD BLUM]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

< Sports index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor