Back in December, Ryan Howard of the Phillies, Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals and multiple other athletes, including Peyton Manning, were linked to performance enhancing drug use in a documentary that aired on the Al Jazeera network. Their primary accuser was a pharmacist named Charlie Sly who worked for an Indiana-based anti-aging clinic in 2011 and was caught on hidden camera bragging about his alleged client list, which he claimed included these athletes.
Howard and Zimmerman sued Al Jazeera for libel and denied all wrongdoing. Another baseball player, Taylor Teagarden, was suspended for 80 games for violations of baseball’s drug policy. Teagarden, it should be noted, appeared on camera in the documentary openly discussing his PED use. There was no such evidence, or anything close to it, related to Howard and Zimmerman.
Today Major League Baseball announced that Howard and Zimmerman have been cleared, and noted their cooperation with MLB’s investigation. Major League Baseball’s official statement:
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 most likely explanation here is that Sly, not realizing he was being recorded, erroneously claimed that Howard and Zimmerman were clients of his. Though, of course, his refusal to speak to Major League Baseball leaves that an open question.
What is not open is (a) Howard and Zimmerman being in the clear with their employer; and (b) their lawsuits against Al Jazeera still pending. So have fun with that, Al Jazeera.
UPDATE: Ryan Howard and Ryan Zimmerman both released statements as soon as this decision was announced:
“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 lawsuit, I am determined to hold Al Jazeera and its reporters accountable for their defamatory actions.”
“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.”