Right-hander Sergio Mitre, who was signed by the New York Yankees in November, was suspended by Major League Baseball for 50 games on Tuesday after violating the league's drug policy.
Mitre -- like Phillies reliever J.C. Romero, who also received a 50-game suspension -- said that the positive test came as a result of an over-the-counter supplement, purchased at a GNC store in Florida while rehabbing his right elbow following Tommy John reconstructive surgery in July. The product contained trace amounts of banned substance androstenedione -- a natural steroid hormone that produces testosterone in the body -- which Mitre said resulted in the positive test in late August.
"Although being suspended for 50 games is tough to accept, I think that it is important to understand that I am in full support of drug testing in baseball," Mitre said in a statement. "I did take the supplement in question and accept full responsibility for taking it. What has been difficult for me to understand is that I legally purchased this supplement at GNC and had no intention nor desire to cheat or to circumvent the system in any way.
"As confirmed through the drug testing and grievance processes, it contained a 'contaminant' amount of an illegal, performance-enhancing drug. This was not listed as an ingredient on the packaging, should not have been in the supplement and certainly should not have been available for legal purchase at a store."
Mitre, who filed an unsuccessful grievance case in September, is not expected to be ready to pitch until midseason as a result of the surgery. He will serve his suspension and be docked 50 days' Minor League pay while on the disabled list. Mitre's deal with the Yankees is a split contract that will pay him about $1.5 million if he makes the big league roster.
"I accept my punishment because, as a professional, I have a responsibility for what I put into my body," Mitre said. "For this I will suffer a significant financial penalty and, more importantly, it will affect my reputation. I only hope that this will help others avoid being punished for having taken a product bought legally at a retail store."