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04/28/09 7:22 PM ET
Company disputes Romero's charges
Phils reliever suing manufacturer of nutritional supplement
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
The manufacturer being named in the lawsuit Phillies reliever J.C. Romero filed this week sent out an e-mail to media outlets Tuesday disputing Romero's charges and contending the company includes warning labels on its products. Romero, currently serving a 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball, filed a suit Monday in Camden County, N.J., against Ergopharm, Inc. and Proviant Technologies, the manufacturer and distributor of the nutritional supplement that caused him to test positive for androstenedione. Also named in the court proceedings are retail nutrition stores Vitamin Shoppe and GNC, who sold 6-OXO Extreme to Romero and told him that the product would not cause a positive test. Patrick Arnold of Illinois-based Proviant Technologies noted in the e-mail sent to media Tuesday that each bottle of 6-OXO Extreme carries a warning label that reads: "Use of this product may be banned by some athletic or government associations (including military)." In a later e-mail to The Associated Press, Arnold clarified that "every single bottle of 6-OXO Extreme ever produced" included a warning label. The supplement was first sold in 2007, Arnold said. Romero said he first purchased it in July 2008. The company also noted, according to the AP, that 6-OXO Extreme is not on baseball's certified list of acceptable supplements, and therefore Romero could have called MLB's hotline to determine that in advance of using it. "If an athlete chooses to ignore an explicit warning on the label of a dietary supplement product, fails to conduct reasonable inquiry, and thereafter tests positive for a banned substance, the athlete should take responsibility for their actions," Proviant's two-page unsigned statement said. Arnold, one of the owners of Proviant and director of its research and development, is a former BALCO chemist who served three months in prison after pleading guilty in 2006 for making two undetectable steroids. Romero's representatives were not immediately available for comment. The Phillies had no comment on the matter. Romero, who loses $1,245,902 of his $4 million salary because of the suspension, is eligible to be activated June 2. He can begin a rehab assignment in the Minor Leagues 16 days before then. Romero failed a drug test Aug. 26, 2008. Romero has maintained from the beginning that he never knowingly took a banned substance.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.