Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

Former MLB Player Sues ESPN for Defamation

If you want to see Major League Baseball and deer antler velvet talked about in the same sentence, you should read about the former MLB player who is suing ESPN, The AP, and USA Today for defamation. Neiman Nix, who once played for the Cincinnati Reds and the Milwaukee Brewers, filed a complaint against the news organizations for reporting that he and his company marketed and sold banned performance enhancing substances to baseball players.

The Background -- Nix Sued the MLB

Prior to this defamation lawsuit, Nix sued the MLB for tortious interference and slander after he was investigated and accused of selling prohibited performance enhancing drugs to MLB players. His complaint states that the MLB never found any evidence to show that he or his company, DNA Sports, sold illegal substances.

Elk Antlers a Banned Substance?

At the center of the controversy is a performance enhancing substance made from the "shed tissue" of elk antlers, also called "deer antler velvet." According to Nix and his company, this substance is a non-steroidal, naturally-occurring substance that can boost strength, energy, and performance, among other benefits. This was why his company, DNA Sports Performance Lab Inc. used it in its supplements. And it's never been banned by the MLB.

The Defamation Lawsuit

In a defamation lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove the following:

  • The defendant made a false and defamatory statement about the plaintiff (a statement of fact, not opinion)
  • The defendant communicated that statement to a third part (for example, published a news article for others to read and without the plaintiff's consent)
  • The defendant was at lease negligent in doing so
  • Some harm happened to the plaintiff as a result

According to Nix's defamation complaint, ESPN and USA Today reported on his lawsuit against the MLB, publishing an article by The AP that said Nix and DNA Sports admitted to selling products containing a "bioidentical insulin-like growth factor" that was derived from elk antlers, a banned substance. He says these defamatory reports damaged his business and professional reputation.

If you think you've been harmed by someone's false statements about you or your business, speak with a personal injury attorney to discuss your options.

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