Washington Nationals' Zimmerman Sues Al Jazeera - Multichannel

Washington Nationals' Zimmerman Sues Al Jazeera

Says Doping Allegations Published With Reckless Disregard for Truth
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Washington Nationals All-Star first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has sued cable news network Al Jazeera America over the Dec. 27 airing of a documentary, The Dark Side: Secrets of the Sports Dopers, that included allegations he had used performance-enhancing drugs, an allegation later recanted by its source.

Zimmerman had denied the allegation, and the Nationals backed him up. The Al Jazeera source also leveled and recanted the same charge against Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

In the suit, a copy of which was posted by Reuters, Zimmerman said his reputation had been damaged by "outrageously false and defamatory statements recklessly published by Al Jazeera."

Zimmerman's reputation has helped him to lucrative endorsement deals with, among others, Comcast, DirecTV and Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, as well as Coca-Cola, Geico and Under Armour.

Zimmerman said the story had been "unequivocally recanted" before publication, and that Al Jazeera knew that and published the "scandalous and untrue" allegation anyway.

Zimmerman wants general, special and punitive damages; an injunction forcing Al Jazeera to remove any false and defamatory statements from its websites; and a retraction -- not on an Al Jazeera outlet, but in The New York Times or a similar national publication.

The Phillies' Howard has also filed suit against the news network, according to ESPN.

Al Jazeera did not return an e-mail request for comment by press time.