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News » Suspended Phillies reliever Romero files lawsuit over supplement

Suspended Phillies reliever Romero files lawsuit over supplement

Suspended Phillies reliever Romero files lawsuit over supplement
A third of the way into his 50-game suspension for a violation of Major League Baseball's drug policy, Phillies lefthander J.C. Romero has filed a lawsuit in New Jersey Superior Court against the manufacturers of the supplement he says caused him to test positive and the two retail chains from which he bought the supplement.

Romero filed the lawsuit in Camden County, N.J., yesterday against Proviant Technologies and Ergopharm, both of Illinois, both of which were founded by former BALCO chemist Patrick Arnold, and two vitamin distributors - the Vitamin Shoppe and General Nutrition Centers.

Ergopharm's name was on the label of the two substances - 6-OXO and 6-OXO Extreme - that Romero claims were to blame. A drug test on Aug. 26, 2008 administered by Major League Baseball revealed a positive test for androstenedione, which is banned by Baseball and which Romero alleges was not listed as being among the ingredients.

Messages left at headquarters of Proviant and the Vitamin Shoppe were not returned. A spokeswoman for GNC, based in Pittsburgh, declined comment, saying the company does not comment on pending lawsuits.

Arnold, who created quot;The Clearquot; - a drug distributed through the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative to various high-profile athletes, did not respond to a request for comment.

Ergopharm, site of Arnold's laboratories in Illinois, was raided by federal agents in January, several media outlets reported. Its Web site claims that a new Web site will be launched soon.

The Phillies had no comment.

The lawsuit alleges that all the defendants should be held financially responsible for negligence, strict products liability, breach of implied warranties, intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation and a violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.

Romero is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, the value of which the lawsuit says will be established in court. Romero will lose an estimated $1.24 million of his $4 million salary while serving his 50-game suspension. The lawsuit also alleges that he should be compensated for the loss of future earning potential as well as quot;past and future pain, suffering and humiliationquot; and quot;loss of enjoyment of life, past and future.quot;

The lawsuit focuses on the manufacturer and distributors of the supplement rather than Major League Baseball, which adhered to its collectively bargained drug program when testing and suspending Romero.

quot;He was led to believe the supplement he was taking was not a banned substance, and that's really the basis of the complaint,quot; said Jeffrey Craig, a Haddonfield-based attorney who is one of three lawyers representing Romero. quot;Major League Baseball is not a party here. He was duped by the drug manufacturer who mislabeled the product and the retail store that sold the product.quot;

Romero, who has split time between Florida and Philadelphia during his suspension, was not at Citizens Bank Park yesterday prior to the Phillies game against the Nationals. The lefthanded reliever was with the team in Miami for its series against the Marlins over the weekend.

Romero's legal team released a statement from the pitcher.

quot;Testing positive and being suspended from Baseball was one of the most painful experiences in my life and robbed me of the joy of winning the World Series and damaged my reputation in the process,'' the statement said. quot;I purchased an over-the-counter supplement that I was told and believed would not cause me to test positive. These events have hurt me deeply and placed a cloud over my career, accomplishments and family. It is my hope that I can finally start to put this event behind me and protect the interests of others who rely on manufacturers and retailers to be honest about their products. I look forward to rejoining the Phillies and my teammates at the end of my suspension.''

Romero is eligible to return June 2.

The lawsuit details the events that led to Romero's suspension, which closely mirrors what Romero told several media outlets before his 50-game suspension was announced in January.

In July 2008, just before the MLB All-Star Game, Romero went to the Vitamin Shoppe in Cherry Hill and told a salesperson that he needed a supplement that would give him energy, and that he was a professional athlete and could not test positive on a drug test, the lawsuit said. The salesperson, according to the lawsuit, recommended 6-OXO and 6-OXO Extreme and quot;told [Romero] that he did not have to worry about a positive drug test from either.quot;

Romero purchased one of each, which he consumed up to and through Aug. 26, 2008.

During the All-Star break in July 2008, Romero went to a GNC store in his hometown of Fairhope, Ala., and asked a salesperson about 6-OXO Extreme and was told the supplement would not cause a positive test, the lawsuit said. He then purchased a bottle of 6-OXO Extreme, which he used up to and through Aug. 26.

The lawsuit claims Romero did plenty of research before deciding to ingest the supplements. Major League Baseball told the Daily News in January that Romero should have called a drug hotline that it had set up for players to call with questions about supplements. If Romero had called the hotline, the league contended, he would have been told that 6-OXO and 6-OXO Extreme were not safe for consumption.

quot;As a result of his suspension, [Romero] will miss a significant portion of the 2009 Baseball season and was further deprived the enjoyment of being a member of the 2008 World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies ,quot; the lawsuit says. quot;In addition, he suffered a significant loss of income. Furthermore, Plaintiff's reputation is permanently tarnished.'' *

For more Phillies coverage and opinion, read David Murphy's blog, High Cheese, at

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 28, 2009

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