Ryan Howard and Ryan Zimmerman have each sued Al Jazeera America, reporter Deborah Davies, and hurdler Liam James Collins today in federal court for Al Jazeera’s report on athletes and doping, which included both baseball players. In their lawsuits, Zimmerman and Howard both claim one count of libel and one count of false light invasion of privacy while laying out similar issues.
The complaint starts out talking about each man’s career and charitable work. Zimmerman’s complaint writes that he “became a hometown hero and fan favorite.” Howard is a “talented and widely respected athlete.” Both have sections about Al Jazeera America’s internal woes. Then they get to the core of the argument. Both players deny the Al Jazeera report and say they reached out to Al Jazeera about that before the story aired. Here is Zimmerman’s denial:
All of these statements concerning Mr. Zimmerman are categorically untrue. Mr. Zimmerman has never taken Delta 2, human growth hormone, or any other steroid or other performance-enhancing substance banned by the MLB. Mr. Zimmerman has not known Charles David Sly for six years, and Charles David Sly has not gotten “[Mr. Zimmerman] to change some stuff.” Mr. Zimmerman has never received any banned substances from Charles David Sly and has never “been coached [by Charles David Sly] on what to take and how to avoid testing positive.”
Here is Howard’s denial:
But for the reference to Mr. Howard’s prowess as a home run hitter, all of these statements concerning Mr. Howard are categorically untrue. Mr. Howard has never taken Delta 2, human growth hormone, or any other steroid or other performance-enhancing substance banned by the MLB. Mr. Howard has never received any banned substances from Charles David Sly or “taught anything back to” Charles David Sly. Mr. Howard has never “been coached [by Charles David Sly] on what to take and how to avoid testing positive.” And, contrary to what is implied in the program, Charles David Sly played no part in Mr. Howard’s fiftieth home run in 2006 or in any of his many other home runs.
Both lawsuits go into extensive details about how Charlie Sly recanted what he was recorded saying, as well as the background of Collins, who helped with the report. Collins is a British hurdler who pretended to be potential client searching for performance-enhancing substances and recorded his conversations, including those with Sly.
The complaints call Collins a “known fraudster and publicity-seeker who gained fame in 2009 as a semi-finalist on Britain’s Got Talent as part of the dance duo ‘Faces of Disco.’” They go on to point that Collins has no news reporting experience and that Collins once “made news for busking in Glasgow dressed as Iron Man, in a purported scheme to raise money for his wedding.” And there’s this:
More infamously, in 2012, Collins and his business partner declared bankruptcy after their real estate investment scheme was exposed and investors lost millions. Following an investigation by Britain’s Insolvency Service’s Public Interest Unit into Collins’ business activities, Collins and his partner were each given 14-year bankruptcy restriction orders barring them from directing companies within the United Kingdom. The maximum ban is 15 years. British authorities found that Collins and his partner had amassed nearly a million pounds from investors “‘with the promise of high returns on property investments with no reasonable expectation that they would ever be able to meet the repayments promised to investors.’”
Each lawsuit points out how the online version of the story has changed. The original report said: “Sly also named . . . Ryan Zimmerman, of the Washington Nationals . . . raising questions about whether [he] use[s]” human growth hormone.” It had a similar sentence about Howard, his complaint says: “Sly also named [. . .] Ryan Howard, of the Philadelphia Phillies, raising questions about whether [he] use[s]” human growth hormone.”
Both complaints say those sentences were altered on Dec. 28 to change HGH to “hormone supplement Delta 2” as well as a correction clarifying that allegations were incorrect as “the substance alleged in Al Jazeera’s own program was not human growth hormone but Delta 2.”
Before these lawsuits, the Al Jazeera report got the most attention because of allegations in it that HGH was sent to Peyton Manning’s wife, Ashley. Manning has denied using HGH, while saying his wife’s medical treatments are “her business.” So far, there are no reports of Manning suing Al Jazeera.
The full complaints from both athletes are below.
Images via Associated Press