Posted on August 19, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Major League Baseball announced Friday that it has completed its investigation of Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and found that neither violated the league’s drug policy. The investigation relates to an Al-Jazeera documentary released in December that claimed that both Howard and Zimmerman were among several professional athletes who received shipments of performance-enhancing drugs.
MLB’s investigation into the Al-Jazeera report “did not find any violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program by either Howard or Zimmerman.” The league added that both Howard and Zimmerman cooperated during the investigation. Both players have also filed a defamation lawsuit against Al-Jazeera America, which went out of business in April due to economic difficulty.
“The accusations from Al Jazeera came out of nowhere, and I was shocked and outraged by their false claims,” said Howard in a statement released after MLB cleared him. “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 also released a statement after his name was cleared. “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,” read Zimmerman’s 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. 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.”
Brodie Van Wagenen, who represents both Howard and Zimmerman, also came to the defense of his clients. “Over the course of their long and distinguished careers, both men have earned their stellar reputations as tremendous players and authentic ambassadors in their respective communities. Major League Baseball’s rulings are important steps in clearing their names and securing their legacies,” said Van Wagenen. “The result of MLB’s seven-month investigation strengthens the players’ resolve to seek justice in their ongoing legal battle with Al Jazeera and its reporters.”
Meanwhile, the NFL is continuing to investigate several players who were also named in the Al-Jazeera report. Peyton Manning has already been cleared, while the league is still hoping to speak with Clay Matthews, James Harrison, and Julius Peppers, among others. The fact that Howard and Zimmerman have been cleared of any wrong doing would seem to increase the likelihood that the NFL players named will have their names cleared as well.