Players union backs Romero

As the news continues to unfold on the 50-game suspension of Phillies reliever J.C. Romero, the Major League Baseball Players Association issued a statement, describing the penalty as "unfair" and saying it "strongly disagrees" with the suspension by the commissioner's office and the ruling by the arbitration panel.

The union said Romero should not be suspended, however, it also said it recognizes the arbitration process as final.

Also suspended for 50 games was Yankees minor league pitcher Sergio Mitre, who is with the team's Triple A affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The statement:

General Counsel, Michael Weiner, today released the following statement regarding the suspensions of Sergio Mitre and J.C. Romero.

“Sergio Mitre and J.C. Romero were suspended for fifty games each by the Commissioner because they tested positive during the 2008 regular season for a Performance Enhancing Substance. Those suspensions were upheld by a neutral third-party arbitrator after hearing. We strongly disagree with the Commissioner’s discipline and with the arbitrator’s decision.

“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. Neither player intentionally ingested this prohibited substance, but the arbitrator nevertheless found, wrongly in our view, that the players’ conduct violated the Program’s “no fault or negligence” standard.

“The Union respects the arbitration process and treats the decision as final. In our view, though, the resulting discipline imposed upon Mitre and Romero is unfair. These players should not be suspended. Their unknowing actions plainly are distinguishable from those of a person who intentionally used an illegal performance-enhancing substance.

“The Association and the Commissioner’s Office must now act to prevent future similar occurrences within baseball. The Association remains committed to a strong Joint Drug Program, but will continue to advocate forcefully for fair treatment of our members.”