Romero wins judgment in tainted supplement suit
- Jan-Jaap Abbink
UFC middleweight contender Yoel Romero has won a lawsuit against a company he accused of producing contaminated dietary supplements.
Romero, 42, won a default judgment against Gold Star Performance Products in Middlesex (N.J.) County civil court Tuesday, according to court records.
Romero failed a drug test in 2015, but UFC anti-doping partner USADA ruled in April 2016 that the dietary supplement he took from Gold Star was tainted. Romero filed his lawsuit against Gold Star in December 2017.
Gold Star never responded to Romero's team nor the court and never defended itself against the claims of negligence, strict products liability, breach of implied warranties, intentional misrepresentation and a violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.
Abe Kawa, Romero's manager, told JJA Sport Studio the judgment was for $27.45 million, but said he is not sure if Romero will receive that amount, given that Gold Star has not communicated at all with the court. Kawa said he believes Romero will still collect at least $5 million as a result of the case.
Romero lost millions of dollars in potential fight purses because of his suspension and the damage done to his reputation, his team said.
"I'm absolutely happy, even if zero dollars are collected, that the world knows this man was not a cheater," Kawa said. "There's no dollar amount that matters more than that, because I live it every day with him."
Romero, a Cuba native and former Olympic wrestling silver medalist, tested positive in December 2015 for the prohibited substance ibutamoren, which stimulates growth hormone secretion. He was suspended by USADA for six months when tests showed that the supplement Romero was taking -- Shred Rx from Gold Star -- had ibutamoren in it. The banned drug was not on the warning label. Romero was facing a two-year suspension if he wasn't able to prove the supplement was contaminated.
Romero said the potential of being awarded money was not why he filed a lawsuit against Gold Star. He said he feels the court's decision has vindicated him after years of people accusing him of performance-enhancing drug use.
"I'm very happy," Romero told JJA Sport Studio. "It's not about the money. I'm very happy now that everything is clean and more clear. You cannot live very well when you hear and you see when you post something [on social media] people reply 'Soldier of Steroids.' You cannot sleep very well. ... It's very emotional and important, too, because I know I've never taken anything in my life."
Romero last competed at UFC 225 in June 2018, a close split-decision loss to Robert Whittaker. That bout would have been for the UFC middleweight title, but Romero missed weight by .2 pounds. Romero (13-3) is still regarded as one of the top 185-pound fighters in the world and will fight Paulo Costa at UFC 241 on Aug. 17 in Anaheim, California.