LOS ANGELES -- The Philadelphia Phillies will launch their World Series title defense in April without relief pitcher JC Romero, who has been banned 50 games for using a banned supplement, ESPN.com reported.
The 33-year-old lefthander has been ruled guilty of "negligence," although Major League Baseball did not say that Romero cheated, according to the report posted on the sports website on Monday.
Romero said he bought a supplement from a GNC store in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, last July - and that the Players Association had told players that the product was acceptable.
"I still cannot see where I did something wrong," Romero told ESPN.com. "There is nothing that should take away from the rings of my teammates. I didn't cheat. I tried to follow the rules."
Three months after Romero was tested before a game on August 26, the Players Association sent a letter to players revising their advice on some over the counter supplements.
"We have recently learned of three substances which can be bought over the counter at stores in the United States that will cause you to test positive. These three supplements were purchased at a GNC and Vitamin Shoppe in the US," the letter said.
Romero had an arbitration hearing in Tampa Bay during the first two days of the World Series in which it was claimed that in early July, the Center for Drug Free Support had notified baseball of questions about the supplement Romero had bought, ESPN.com reported.
Romero said baseball and the players' association never sorted out the issue.
"What's most important is that I get back my honor," Romero said. "This just isn't fair."