Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher, JC Romero has been suspended for 50 Games for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. ESPN's Peter Gammons provided a detailed account of the whole process.
Romero’s suspension is the result of two failed tests (Aug. 29 and Sept. 19), the second just one month before Romero won games three and five (the clinching game) of the World Series. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Romero had used 6-OXO Extreme, a substance he bought over the counter in the United States. The Major League Baseball Players’ Association (MLBPA) had previously told the players that there was "no reason to believe a supplement bought at a U.S. based retail store could cause you to test positive under our Drug Program."
Romero was reportedly offered a reduced suspension of 25 games that would start at the beginning of the 2009 season if he would admit guilt, but he declined. After the arbitration hearing, which was held on the first day of the World Series, Romero was again offered the reduced suspension with the condition that he start the suspension immediately and still admit guilt. He declined once again and was subsequently suspended 50 games for "negligence."
The sequence of events according to Gammons:
July 22Romero purchases a supplement from a GNC in the United States. Romero has the supplement checked by two nutritionists who both say it is clean.
August 29Romero is tested by MLB.
September 19Romero is again tested by MLB.
September 23Romero is informed that his Aug. 29 sample had tested positive. He stops taking all supplements.
October 1Michael Weiner, general counsel to MLBPA, tells Romero that "the specific supplement was indeed the cause of the failed test and that because it was purchased over the counter in the U.S., he believed the case would be dropped."
Romero is tested for a third time by MLB. The test came back negative.
October 3Romero was informed that MLB would reduce his suspension to 25 games if he admitted guilt. Romero declined because he didn’t believe had had done anything wrong.
October 12Romero was informed that his Sept. 19 sample had also tested positive. MLB then offered to reduce the suspension to 25 games, but the suspension would have to start immediately and Romero would still have to admit guilt. Romero again declined, not wanting to miss the World Series or admit guilt.
October 22The arbitration hearing is held on the first day of the World Series. MLB brings an example of the supplement containing the warning, "Use of this product may be banned by some athletic or government associations." The bottle Romero brought to the hearing contained no such warning.
November 21MLBPA sends a letter to players that states:
"We have previously told you there is no reason to believe a supplement bought at a U.S. based retail store could cause you to test positive under our Drug Program. That is no longer true. We have recently learned of three substances which can be bought over the counter at stores in the United States that will cause you to test positive. These three supplements were purchased at a GNC and Vitamin Shoppe in the U.S."
December (no exact date)MLBPA informs Romero that the arbitrator had ruled against him.
January 4MLB confirms that the arbitrator had ruled against Romero.
January 6MLB announces Romero’s suspension stating Romero was guilty of "negligence."
Some quotes from Romero:
"I still cannot see where I did something wrong. There is nothing that should take away from the rings of my teammates. I didn't cheat. I tried to follow the rules."
"I told them that if I ever tested positive again, I would accept a 100-day suspension. They know I didn't cheat. And yet the rest of my career, people are going to say, 'He cheated,' even though I tested negative at the start of the playoffs. I did what I was told to do, what I thought was legal and right."