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50-game suspension for Mitre, Romero

WORLD Series winner 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.

New York Yankees 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."

Players at fault

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

"Certainly MLB 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 MLB clubhouse give players a hotline to call to check on substances, and Manfred said Romero did not use the hot line.

Romero, a reliever who pitched two wins in Philadelphia's World Series victory over Tampa Bay last season, used 6-OXO, developed by Ergopharm, which was led by Arnold. The company's Website touts it as "the new gold standard for testosterone elevation." Mitre tested positive for Halodrol.

Both supplements contain Androstenetrione as a listed ingredient and were contaminated with Androstenedione, the substance Mark McGwire used in the 1990s.


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