Major League Baseball announced today that it has completed its investigation into allegations made by news outlet Al Jazeera in the documentary, “The Dark Side,” which claimed that Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard used performance enhancing drugs, finding neither player guilty of any violation. The league’s official statement reads as follows:
“The Office of the Commissioner has completed its investigation into the statements made by Charlie Sly concerning players Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies and Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals in the Al Jazeera documentary ’The Dark Side.’ This thorough investigation did not find any violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program by either Howard or Zimmerman. Both Howard and Zimmerman fully cooperated with the Office of the Commissioner’s investigation. Mr. Sly did not agree to speak with the Commissioner’s Office or provide requested information.”
The news comes as very little surprise, as several holes were quickly punctured in the story almost immediately upon the documentary’s release. Al Jazeera enlisted British hurdler Liam Collins to go undercover in an effort to expose users of performance enhancing drugs, and within mere hours of the documentary’s release, Charlie Sly — the key witness and a former pharmacy intern — recanted all of the comments made, telling ESPN that they were “absolutely false and incorrect” and were intended to “pull one over on Collins to see if he had any idea of what he was talking about.” Unsurprisingly, both Howard and Zimmerman filed defamation lawsuits against Al Jazeera, and both players said in statements released today that they fully intend to continue with those legal actions.
Those statements by both Howard and Zimmerman have been released to many in the media, including ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (links to Twitter). Said Howard: “The accusations from Al Jazeera came out of nowhere, and I was shocked and outraged by their false claims. I welcomed the investigation by Major League Baseball as an opportunity to clear my name. I was fully cooperative and transparent in the process, and MLB’s findings validate what I have said publicly. I am glad that this part of the process has concluded, and I look forward to holding the responsible people accountable for these false and defamatory claims in my ongoing litigation against Al Jazeera and its reporters.”
Zimmerman’s comments are similar in nature: “I understand why Major League Baseball found it necessary to explore this matter, and I appreciate that MLB, after a thorough investigation, was able to publicly affirm my innocence. Throughout my life and career, I have been true to myself, my family, the Nationals organization and my community. It is not right that a so-called news organization and its personnel can publicly make false accusations that damage my reputation and call into question my integrity without any consequences whatsoever. As I said in January when I filed my defamation lawsuit, I am determined to hold Al Jazeera and its reporters accountable for their defamatory actions.”
The documentary in question also made claims against former big league catcher Taylor Teagarden and NFL legend Peyton Manning. However, unlike the other players alleged to have used PEDs, Teagarden himself was recorded on camera discussing PED usage and accordingly received an 80-game suspension from Major League Baseball. Manning, meanwhile, was cleared of any PED use by the NFL in a similar fashion last month (as can be seen over at MLBTR’s sister site, Pro Football Rumors).