Ryan Howard has backed up his threat.
He is suing the Al Jazeera network.
The Phillies' slugger filed a defamation suit Tuesday night in Federal District Court in Washington, D.C. The suit (complete document here) was filed against the Al Jazeera network and two reporters who worked on a documentary that connected Howard and several other professional athletes to the use of performance enhancing drugs.
Washington Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman was also implicated in the report. He also filed a defamation suit in Federal District court on Tuesday night.
Howard and Zimmerman are both represented by William Burck of the law firm Quinn Emanuel.
The documentary, which focused mostly on NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, aired last week. The report centered on the claims on Charles Sly, who at one time was affiliated with an Indianapolis-area anti-aging clinic. Sly made his claims while being secretly videotaped by a representative of the network. He began backpedaling from his comments even before the report aired and has since recanted his statements.
The report alleged that Manning received PEDs as he was recovering from neck surgery in 2011. Manning has strongly denounced the report and denied any wrongdoing.
The reported also stated that Howard received PEDs. Howard denied that to the network, and his legal representative, Burck, called the allegations “outright lies.” Burck followed up with a letter to Al Jazeera demanding a full and immediate retraction of the report. A week after the letter was sent, Howard filed lawsuit on Tuesday night.
"Today I authorized my attorneys to file suit against Al Jazeera and its reporters," Howard said in a statement. "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."
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PEDs have been an issue in sports for more than a decade. Accusations and denials are not uncommon. What is uncommon is an accused athlete filing suit against a media outlet. In fact, that may be unprecedented.
The suit in another strong denial of any connection to PEDs by Howard. By filing suit, Howard is opening himself up to discovery and the possibility of having to testify under oath in a court of law.
Howard, 36, was the National League rookie of the year in 2005, its MVP in 2006 and a World Series champion in 2008. Once one of the game’s most feared sluggers, his production has waned since he ruptured his left Achilles tendon on the final swing of the 2011 NL Division Series.
Howard is nearing the end of his run with the Phillies. His contract is guaranteed through just 2016 at a staggering $35 million -- $25 million in salary with a $10 million buyout of the 2017 season.