Phillies pitcher J.C. Romero is suing the makers and distributors of the over-the-counter dietary supplement that he claims caused his positive test for a banned substance last summer.
In a 27-page suit filed yesterday in Superior Court in Camden County, the suspended reliever accused the makers and distributors of 6-OXO Extreme with negligence, intentional misrepresentation, and consumer fraud.
Romero bought the supplement at a nutrition store in Cherry Hill last summer. He tested positive for the banned performance-enhancer androstenedione Aug. 26. Androstenedione was not listed on the supplement's list of ingredients.
Romero, who is serving a 50-game suspension, is suing Ergopharm Inc., the supplement's maker and a division of Proviant Technologies Inc. The pitcher is also suing two distributors - Vitamin Shoppe and GNC.
Romero, who is being represented by Howard Jacobs, David Cornwell, and Jeffrey Craig, is seeking to be compensated for his lost salary, as well as to be paid punitive damages.
"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," Romero said in a statement. "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."
Proviant Technologies is owned and operated by Illinois chemist Patrick Arnold, who was sentenced to three months in a federal prison for his role in the Balco steroids case in 2006. In an e-mail, Arnold said he was working on a press release in response to Romero's lawsuit.
Romero, 32, is forfeiting about $1.3 million of his $4 million salary because of the suspension. Barring postponements, he will be eligible to rejoin the Phillies on June 2. In the meantime, he is working out at the Phillies' training complex in Clearwater, Fla.
Romero appealed his suspension and lost. Major League Baseball offers a hot line that players can call to check out supplements they are considering taking. Romero did not call the hot line before taking 6-OXO Extreme.
"The player testified that he did not call," Rob Manfred, MLB's vice president for labor and human resources told The Inquirer in January, when Romero's suspension was announced. "If he did, he would have been told not to use this substance."