6:25pm: In a full column, Salisbury relays Howard’s official statement on the matter: “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.”
5:59pm: According to a report from Reuters (Twitter link) and a second report from Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com (also on Twitter), Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard have filed lawsuits against the Al Jazeera media outlet for the PED allegations against each player in Al Jazeera’s recent documentary, The Dark Side. The controversial documentary was released in late December, although within hours of its release, the documentary’s main witness, Charlie Sly, told ESPN that the comments he made regarding Zimmerman and Howard were “absolutely false and incorrect,” adding that the comments he made to British hurdler Liam Collins, who went undercover for the film, were his attempt to “pull one over on Collins to see if he had any idea of what he was talking about.”
Per the Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga (links to Svrluga on Twitter), Zimmerman’s lawsuit states the following: “Mr. Zimmerman has never taken Delta 2, human growth hormone, or any other steroid or other performance-enhancing substance banned by the MLB.” The Al Jazeera film in question alleges that Zimmerman did take Delta-2, which is both specifically designated to evade drug tests and included on Major League Baseball’s list of banned substances. At the time the documentary was published, attorney William Burck of Emmanuel Quinn, who represents both Zimmerman and Howard, issued the following statement:
“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.”
NFL star Peyton Manning, who is also the subject of Al Jazeera allegations, could conceivably file a suit as well, as could fellow NFL players Julius Peppers, Mike Neal and James Harrison, each of whom is connected to Delta-2 usage in the film as well. MLBTR’s sister site, Pro Football Rumors, has been tracking the football implications of the Al Jazeera documentary for those who are interested in the latest developments on the NFL side of the equation.