Al-Jazeera asking judge to dismiss players' defamation suits

FILE - These are 2016 file photos showing Philadelphia Phillies' Ryan Howard, left, and Washington Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman. Al-Jazeera is asking a judge to dismiss defamation lawsuits filed by two Major League Baseball players over statements made in a documentary about performance-enhancing drugs in sports. Lawyers for the publication and for Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals and Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies are to appear in court Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington. The suits refer to the documentary "The Dark Side: Secrets of Sports Doping," which Al-Jazeera America broadcast in December 2015. (AP Photo/File)

WASHINGTON — Al-Jazeera America is asking a judge to dismiss defamation lawsuits filed by two Major League Baseball players over statements made in the broadcaster's documentary about performance-enhancing drugs in sports.

Lawyers for the news organization and for Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals and Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies appeared Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington. The suits, which were consolidated into one Tuesday, refer to the documentary "The Dark Side: Secrets of Sports Doping," broadcast by Al-Jazeera America in December 2015.

The suit alleges a pharmacist who appeared in the documentary made false statements when he said Zimmerman and Howard took banned performance-enhancing drugs.

Major League Baseball investigated the allegations and said it found no violations of its drug agreement.

After more than two hours of arguments Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said she would issue a written ruling on whether the case should be dismissed. But she did not say when she would rule.

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