Ryan Zimmerman And Ryan Howard File Lawsuits Against Al Jazeera Over HGH Allegations

Major League Baseball (MLB) players Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Howard have filed defamation lawsuits against media outlet Al Jazeera over allegations made by the outlet stating that both players took Human Growth Hormone.

Reuters first broke the news of Zimmerman’s lawsuit, with Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reporting that Howard is filing a lawsuit, too.

Al Jazeera released a controversial documentary in late December entitled The Dark Side, seeking to expose athletes in sports that take performance-enhancing drugs. Howard and Zimmerman were just two of the many athletes accused of taking PED’s, with NFL legend Peyton Manning and several other football players being mentioned.

Zimmerman has been a mainstay with the Nationals for over a decade. [Image by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images] Zimmerman has been a mainstay with the Nationals for over a decade. [Image by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]At the time of the documentary’s release, Emmanuel Quinn, the attorney who represents both Zimmerman and Howard, issued a stern statement regarding the allegations and his clients’ intended course of action.

“It’s inexcusable and irresponsible that Al Jazeera would provide a platform and broadcast outright lies about Mr. Howard and Mr. Zimmerman. The extraordinarily reckless claims made against our clients in this report are completely false and rely on a source who has already recanted his claims. We will go to court to hold Al Jazeera and other responsible parties accountable for smearing our clients’ good names.”

As MLB Trade Rumors points out, the documentary’s main source, Charlie Sly, backtracked from his comments about Zimmerman and Howard, calling them “absolutely false and incorrect.” Sly added that his comments were made to “pull one over” on British hurdler Liam Collins — who went undercover for the documentary.

The Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga tweeted more information on Zimmerman’s lawsuit.

For those interested, here’s a direct link to a copy of the lawsuit that Zimmerman filed.

Zimmerman, 31, has been a staple of the Nationals’ organization since his first full season in 2006, a year in which he finished second in Rookie of the Year voting to Howard himself. During his 11-year career, Zimmerman is a .283 hitter with 200 HR and 783 RBI.

Injuries have hampered Zimmerman in recent years and caused him to switch positions from third base to first base. He is signed through the 2019 season.

As for Howard, Salisbury wrote a column for CSNPhilly.com with a quote from Howard — backing up his threat to sue Al Jazeera for their allegations.

“Today I authorized my attorneys to file suit against Al Jazeera and its reporters. Their irresponsible reporting forced me to take this action to protect my name and to fight back against the spreading of these lies. I will have no further comment as the filing itself contains all I need to say.”

Howard, 36, is entering the final year of a five-year, $125 million contract extension he signed with the Phillies during the 2010 season. He is still guaranteed $35 million in salary as he will earn $25 million in 2016 and has a $10 million buyout for the 2017 season.

Howard was one of three MLB players named in Al Jazeera's documentary. [Image by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images] Howard was one of three MLB players named in Al Jazeera’s documentary. [Image by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images]Once considered one of baseball’s most prolific sluggers, injuries have also hampered Howard’s production in recent seasons. After averaging over 40 HR and 122 RBI from 2006-2011, the former 2006 National League MVP has not produced more than 23 HR and 95 RBI since 2012.

Zimmerman and Howard may be just the first of many players who filed lawsuits against Al Jazeera. Several football players and other people potentially impacted by the documentary may seek legal action.

[Featured Image by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]