NEW YORK (AP) — Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard and Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman have been cleared by Major League Baseball of allegations they used banned performance-enhancing substances.
Pharmacist Charlie Sly claimed in an Al-Jazeera America documentary “The Dark Side: Secrets of Sports Doping,” which was broadcast Dec. 27, that the two used banned performance-enhancing substances.
In a brief statement Friday, MLB said its investigation “did not find any violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program by either Howard or Zimmerman.”
MLB said the players cooperated with its investigation and Sly did not.
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Howard, a three-time All-Star, and Zimmerman, a one-time All-Star, denied the allegations and in January sued Al-Jazeera America, Al Jazeera reporter Deborah Davies and former hurdler Liam James Collins, who was said to have assisted in the documentary’s reporting. The suits, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., claimed defamation and false light invasion of privacy.
“The accusations from Al-Jazeera came out of nowhere, and I was shocked and outraged by their false claims,” Howard said in a statement. “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.”
Al Jazeera America at first claimed in a text report the two may have used human growth hormone, then changed the text report to the banned steroid Delta 2, conforming with the broadcast documentary. Sly, who worked as an intern at an anti-aging clinic, later recanted his claims.
The three defendants asked the court to dismiss the suits. The parties in the Zimmerman suit last month asked U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to hold a hearing on the motion.
“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,” Zimmerman said in a statement.
“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.”
Both players reiterated they would press forward with their defamation claims, filed in U.S. District Court
“The whole point of the lawsuit was to not allow people to basically smear your name without any evidence or without any proof,” Zimmerman said before Friday night’s game at Atlanta. “So that will go on.”
Former major league catcher Taylor Teagarden, another player implicated in the Al-Jazeera report, was suspended for 80 games in April.
The report also implicated NFL players Peyton Manning, Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, James Harrison and Mike Neal. Manning, now retired, was cleared by the NFL after an investigation. The NFL is still investigating Matthews and Peppers, who play for Green Bay, Pittsburgh’s Harrison and Neal, a free agent.
AP freelance writer Amy Jinkner-Lloyd in Atlanta contributed to this report.