One week after Al Jazeera aired a documentary in which a number of high profile athletes were implicated in a new scandal concerning performance enhancing drugs, Ryan Howard and Ryan Zimmerman have filed a lawsuit against the network.
The Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning, who was the primary focus of Al Jazeera's expose entitled "The Dark Side," has not filed suit as of yet.
In a statement released by his representatives, Howard said he was going after the network 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."
CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury reports Howard and Zimmerman filed separate suits in a Federal District, and are targeting not only the network but two reporters as well.
The report that aired on Al Jazeera revolved around claims made by a man associated with a clinic in the Indianapolis area named Charles Sly. In the documentary, Sly was videotaped without his knowledge and said that Manning, Howard, Zimmerman and other athletes received human growth hormone.
However, before the report aired, Sly himself recanted everything he had said on videotape and said nothing that aired in the Al Jazeera report should be believed.
Salisbury notes that, while it's not unusual for athletes to deny these kinds of accusations, it is extremely unusual for players to file a lawsuit against the television network or reporters that reported the story. He also could now be called as a witness if the case were to go to trial.
To be clear, Howard was not accused of using steroids, but was accused of receiving HGH in and around 2011. Howard suffered his Achilles injury on the final play of the 2011 season in Game 5 of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Since that game, Howard's five-year, $125 million contract has kicked in, and he has been worth -1.4 fWAR since 2012.
However, as I wrote on Monday, it's time to stop living in the past and embrace Howard's final season in Philadelphia. And with his lawsuit, Howard is trying to assure the public that, in his final season with the Phillies, his legacy will not be tarnished by an accusation of PEDs.