J.C. Romero Busted for PEDs

MLB has suspended Philadelphia Phillies reliever J.C. Romero for 50 games for violating the league’s drug policy.

Reportedly, MLB offered to cut the suspension in half — to 25 games — if Romero agreed to sit out the postseason. Romero declined the offer and filed an appeal instead.

Romero won Games 3 and 5 of the World Series, and had a perfect 0.00 ERA through 7 1/3 IP in the postseason.

6_oxo.jpgInterestingly, the substance that Romero claims he took — something called “6-OXO Extreme” — is a legal supplement that can be readily found in nutritional chain stores such as GNC.

There is a long sob story about how Romero didn’t know that the product he was supposedly taking would produce androstenedione.

“Basically, I am being punished for not having a chemistry lab in my house to test everything I put in my body, because reading the ingredients on a label is no longer good enough,” Romero said in a statement. “I am all for catching the guys that cheat and punishing them. But I feel like I’m the victim of a system where a player like me is punished because other players before me have blatantly broken the rules.”

Wah wah. Excuse me if I don’t empathize. Perhaps it’s because if someone handed me $4M per year to appear for 5 minutes in 75-80 baseball games, with the caveat that I cannot have a specified list of chemicals in my body while doing so, guess what? I’m going to make damn sure that those chemicals are not in my body.

And how can we be certain that Romero wasn’t knowingly taking andro, and blaming the positive test on 6-OXO Extreme? According to reports, the supplement has been known to possibly contain traces of andro, despite not listing it on the label. Players know this, and several had called the MLB hotline to find out its status (apparently, Romero was not one of those players). Sounds to me like the supplement was a nice scapegoat.

Which leads me to another point. It’s not as though players are clueless and have no recourse when it comes to questionable supplements. In addition to being given an exact list of substances one cannot have in their urine test, players are also educated on the dangers of OTC supplements every spring, are provided the hotline and a website, and are given a list of 12 manufacturers that produce supplements that are safe. You want to go outside that safe dozen? Make a phone call. Check the website. Make certain what you’re taking is in compliance.

Regardless of whether Romero is guilty of taking a banned substance or of sheer stupidity, he’ll be out of action for the first 50 games of 2009 — until about June. In case you’re wondering, the Mets play the Phillies five times before June, then have a three-game series with them beginning June 9.

In addition to the suspension of Romero, MLB also suspended former Marlins pitcher Sergio Mitre for 50 games — also for taking a banned substance that supposedly was in an OTC supplement. Mitre recently signed with the New York Yankees after an injury-riddled career in Florida.

The substance Halodrol was found in Mitre’s system. Unlike Romero, Mitre owned up to his mistake — only the second player in MLB history to take responsibility (Guillermo Mota was the first):

“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.”

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude January 8, 2009 at 8:31 am
    Does it come as any surprise, either, that Romero magically transformed himself from waiver-wire bum after being cut by the Red Sox in 2007, to 2nd best LOOGY in baseball (after Okajima) once a member of the Phillies? Sounds to me like Romero had a little extra help turning his career around other than just switching leagues and facing batters that were unfamiliar with him. Hmm, where have I heard a story like this before? Oh yeah, that’s right, Guillermo freakin’ Mota. And to think of it, it did seem like for the past season and a half Romero was marching out to the mound virtually every game for the Phils, and never once showing signs of fatigue or overuse. If that’s not a ‘symptom’ of andro or amphetamine use, then I don’t know what is. Of course, those associated with the Phillies (including their bonehead beat reporters, who will come up with every excuse in the book to cover for their beloved team) believe every word out of Romero’s mouth as if it’s gospel. Forgive me, but what separates good ol’ JC from any other schlub who’s trying to get away with something and pulling the wool over our eyes? Um, NOTHING. In all likelihood, based on evidence we have before us, he was using, he got cocky in thinking he could get away with it, and now he’s pointing as many fingers of blame as possible to try and deflect punishment that he rightly deserves. Makes you wonder what else those Phillies might have been getting away with over the past 2 years.
  2. joe January 8, 2009 at 8:46 am
    The press quotes put out by Romero and his agent and the MLBPA make me sick to my stomach, because they assume that the public is a bunch of ignoramuses and morons.

    This is fact: MLB tells players they are free to use supplements from any of 12 different companies. If a player goes outside those 12, he’s playing with fire. So even if Romero is “telling the truth”, it’s his own fault for taking something from someone not on the “good list”.

    The lack of responsibility from today’s athletes is nauseating.