MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Nats stand by Zimmerman amid PED report

Source for Al Jazeera story has since recanted his claims

Nats stand by Zimmerman amid PED report

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals showed their support for Ryan Zimmerman, who denied a report from Al Jazeera that he received performance-enhancing drugs.

Zimmerman and several athletes, including Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, were mentioned in an undercover investigative report, which is scheduled to air on Sunday. But the source in the report, Charlie Sly, has since recanted his comments.

"Ryan Zimmerman has been an integral member of the Washington Nationals family for the past 11 years," the Nats said in a statement on Sunday afternoon. "During that time, he has been the model for all that we ask our players to be -- contributing to his team, to his community and to the game of baseball.

"We do not find Al Jazeera's report -- which has been recanted by their source -- to be credible. Ryan has unequivocally stated that these allegations are false. The Lerner family and our organization fully support him. We are confident Major League Baseball's investigation will show the allegations levied in this report are unfounded. We will fully cooperate with MLB and refer all questions to them at this time."

Zimmerman and Howard are being represented by attorney William Burck, who plans to fight the allegations.

"It's inexcusable and irresponsible that Al Jazeera would provide a platform and broadcast outright lies about Mr. Howard and Mr. Zimmerman," Burck said in a statement. "The extraordinarily reckless claims made against our clients in this report are completely false and rely on a source who has already recanted his claims. We will go to court to hold Al Jazeera and other responsible parties accountable for smearing our clients' good names."

Zimmerman is entering his 12th season with the Nationals. Last season, Zimmerman spent half the year on the shelf because of foot and oblique injuries. However, he drove in 73 runs in 95 games. During Winterfest a few weeks ago, Zimmerman indicated that he is healthy and ready for 2016.

"I'm getting ready to go at it and stay healthy," Zimmerman said. "The last two or three years have been frustrating for me. Nobody wants to be on the field more than I want to be. Unfortunately, some of those things happen. It's not the amount of work you put in; some of it is bad luck. It's hard to go 10 to 15 years without getting hurt. Unfortunately for me, it's happened two or three [seasons] in a row. But the goal this year is to stay on the field. Let's see what I can do [if I can play] 145, 150 games."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.