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An Innocent Man?

Mike SteffanosWednesday, January 7, 2009
By Mike Steffanos

This is going to be somewhat of a quickie tonight as I've had a pretty rough day.

Perhaps you have been following the drama surrounding Phillies reliever J.C. Romero's 50-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. There have been several articles written from Romero's point of view, including this one from Peter Gammons, where Romero presents a case for what he believes to be his innocence.

I can't pretend not to take some amusement from this misfortune for our division rival. After all, troglodytes from Philadelphia have been leaving stupid comments on this blog from time to time all winter. Still, anyone with any sense of fairness at all understands that this case isn't specific to any team.

Romero's guilt or innocence will continue to be debated from a standpoint of whether he made a reasonable attempt to find out if the supplement he took was legal or not. Putting that aside for a moment, does anyone else but me wonder why he took a chance at all.

Even in Romero's own story there was some confusion and second opinions sought out in regards to the 6-oxo Extreme supplement. By his own admission he never called the drug hot line set to guide players when there is a question about something. I don't care how many nutritionalists he talked to. With the money that ballplayers make it seems silly to take any chances.

The product has mysteriously disappeared from GNC's web site, but other companies sell the same product. Here is a product description from Nutraplanet's web site:

Introducing 6-OXO extreme - maximum testosterone production FOR HARDCORE USERS ONLY

We decided to come up with 6-OXO extreme for a couple of very good reasons. We felt that many of our customers desired an even more potent testosterone boost than 6-OXO provided, and we had the technology to deliver the product. So we made it. We did not just throw this formula together however. We undertook the due testing to prove to ourselves that this product had the ability to stimulate testosterone levels beyond even the range of upper normal - indeed it stimulates levels well into the supraphysiological range.

Wasn't producing more testosterone the basics of how steroids worked? Will Carroll has some interesting info on this supplement on the Baseball Prospectus site, including a no-longer working link to the product that was on GNC's web site and another link to a more technical article on the supplement.

When someone says "supplement" to me I think of multi-vitamins or the stuff like protein powder I used to take when I was a kid trying to put on weight for football.

When I was 13 I had a growth spurt where I went from just over 5 feet tall to over 6 in a year. It took quite a while for my body to catch up to that, despite the fact that I was literally eating three times the food that normal people ate. I was lifting weights and eating milk shakes with raw eggs and the previously mentioned protein powders. I'd get up to 175 pounds by the start of triple sessions in late summer and then lose 15 of those pounds back in the August heat. (By the way, gaining weight is no longer a problem.)

Steroids existed in those days, but only the real hardcore body builders and power lifters knew about them. The rest of us thought of supplements as nutritional products that might just help us pack on another pound or so of muscle.

Nowadays athletes seem to be looking for more than that from their supplements. In the case of Romero, he seemed to be looking for something legal that did at least to some extent what steroids do. I'm sure there are plenty of other players like him in all of the other organizations. You can only hope that Romero's 50-game suspension might give them something to think about, but the innocent days of supplements as we once knew them are clearly over.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (4)

From a purely orange and blue point of view, Romero pitched in five Phils wins against the Mets without allowing a run in any of them. Several of them were one or two run games. Did any edge he might have had factor into any of those results?

Then again, half of his four losses came against us. So, probably not.

in the words of my favorite wfan guy, joe benigno "oh, the pain".now met fans can try to figure out if illegal supplements led to our losing out last year to the phillies.by the way, we still need a leftfielder with a righty bat..that guy, manny what's his name is still out there.does the met front office really think tatis will put up the same numbers as last year??do they remember a guy named benny agbuyani from a few years ago??terriffic one year, never heard from again.tatis is a bench guy.ramirez is a first ballot hall of famer.we can probably lock him up for 75 mill for 3.add lowe to the rotation and met fans will be dancing in the streets.the yankees spent 450 mill on 3 players.we can spend 115 mill to lock up lowe and ramirez and make 2009 at the new park something special.do we want to win as badly as the yankees??we don't have to give up any prospects or trade any players.Write the check fred.met fans are tired of being 2nd best..

Like I said, I don't think players looking for an edge is confined to any one team. What really surprised me is what is being marketed as a "supplement" these days. Even the legal stuff is still scary. And again, why risk your career on any questions about a supplement like this? Crazy.

mike, great point!! i have dabled with powerlifting for a number of years. a couple years ago, i bought a supliment at a vitamin store totally legal and within two months added an overall third muscle mass to my body. yes, this was sold over the counter. so to back up your comment, there's scary stuff out there.

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