DENVER -- A day after reports said that Al Jazeera claimed Peyton Manning used doping drugs to recover from a neck injury, many have stepped up to respond to the allegations.
The Al Jazeera report, “The Dark Side: Secrets of the Sports Dopers,” claims to expose widespread usage of performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports through an undercover investigation.
Manning was name-dropped in connection with using human-growth hormone while he was still playing for the Colts.
Charlie Sly, identified by Al Jazeera as pharmacist who worked at the Indiana-based anti-aging clinic Guyer Institute in 2011, said in a secret video used in the report that he was “part of a medical team that helped [Manning] recover” from a neck surgery that forced the quarterback to miss the entire 2011 season.
Sly claims that the clinic mailed the human growth hormone, along with other drugs, always under the name of Manning's wife, Ashley Manning, so that the quarterback's name was never connected to the shipments; the pharmacist also claims that both Mannings visited the clinic after hours to receive intravenous treatments.
The Broncos quarterback himself said Saturday night in a statement via the Broncos that the claim "is complete garbage and is totally made up. It never happened. Never." He went on to detail his outrage, "I really can’t believe somebody would put something like this on the air. Whoever said this is making stuff up.”
Manning responded once more, to ESPN, on Sunday morning regarding the allegations, saying that the reports made him sick.
"I rotated between being angry, furious, on and on, but disgusted is really how I feel, disgusted," said Manning, who has hired Ari Fleischer for public relations, said on ESPN's "NFL Countdown." "I'm not sure how someone can make it up, admit they made it up and someone published it. It's completely fabricated, completely trash, garbage, more adjectives I'd like to use. It makes me sick they brought Ashley into it, her medical privacy being brought into it, makes me sick.
"It stings me, whoever this guy is, to insinuate that I cut corners, I broke NFL rules in order to get healthy. It's a joke. It's a freaking joke," Manning said, reiterating that he did not use HGH.
Human growth hormones were banned by the NFL in 2011 as part of its collective bargaining agreement with players, but the league did not start testing until 2014. No player has ever tested positive.
Sly told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that he isn't a pharmacist and wasn't at the Guyer Institute in 2011, as Al Jazeera claimed. State licensing records indicate that a Charles David Sly was licensed as a pharmacy intern in Indiana from April 2010 to May 2013. His license expired May 1, 2013. Sly told ESPN that he had fabricated the story on beliefs that the undercover reporter was trying to get into the supplementation business.
"When I was there, I had never seen the Mannings ever. They were not even living there at that time," Sly told ESPN. "Someone who worked there said they had been there before. That was the extent of any knowledge I had. I feel badly. I never saw any files. This is just amazing that it reached this point."
The report was compiled by former British hurdler Liam Collins, who used a hidden camera to record Sly.
"When I realized Al Jazeera was using a secret taping and Collins as a so-called investigative reporter, I was baffled," Sly said. "I cannot believe that can happen. That's why I recanted the story. It wasn't true, and I was trying to pull one over on Collins to see if he had any idea of what he was talking about.
"I was trying to determine whether [Collins] was legitimate or just trying to steal some knowledge about the business."
Manning clarified that he had in fact been a patient under Dr. Guyer, but had never taken any sort of banned substances or gone in to the clinic for after hours IV treatments.
"I have had nutrient therapy, oxygen therapy and other treatments that are holistic in nature, but never HGH. My wife has never provided any medication for me to take. Ashley and I never attended the clinic together after hours. There were times when I went in the morning and there were times when I went after practice so this thing about 'after hours' is so misleading because it may have been 5:15 p.m. because their office closed at 5."
Dr. Dale Guyer issued a statement Sunday, emphasizing that Sly "was never an employee of the Guyer Institute."
"I have no reason to believe these allegations are based in fact or have any truth," Guyer said. "In fact, I can say with absolute certainty they are not. I find it extremely disturbing that the source of Al Jazeera's story, a former unpaid intern named Charles Sly, would violate the privacy of Mrs. Manning's medical records and be so callous and destructive as to purposely fabricate and spread stories that are simply not true."
"I would emphasize that Mr. Sly was never an employee of the Guyer Institute and his brief three-month internship occurred in 2013 during which time Peyton was not even being treated or present in the office. I think it is obvious that Mr. Sly has fabricated this whole thing for reasons I cannot fathom. I am proud to have treated Peyton and helped him through his rehabilitation. Mr. Manning is one of the most honorable and upstanding individuals I have had the pleasure of knowing."
Both the Broncos and the Colts issued statements in defense of the quarterback.
The Broncos' full statement reads:
Knowing Peyton Manning and everything he stands for, the Denver Broncos support him 100 percent. These are false claims made to Al Jazeera, and we don’t believe the report.
Peyton is rightfully outraged by the allegations, which he emphatically denied to our organization and which have been publicly renounced by the source who initially provided them.
Throughout his NFL career, particularly during his four seasons with the Broncos, Peyton has shown nothing but respect for the game. Our organization is confident Peyton does things the right way, and we do not find this story to be credible.
The Colts' full statement reads;
We've been made aware of the recent Al Jazeera report concerning Peyton Manning and find it utterly ridiculous. We are thoroughly familiar with Peyton's tireless work habits, his medical history, and, most importantly, his integrity. Peyton played the game in Indianapolis for 14 years the right way. He never took any shortcuts and it would be absurd to suggest he would have taken prohibited performance enhancing drugs.
We also note that the "source" of this allegation has since recanted his story. The entire Indianapolis Colts organization and the Irsay family hope this crude effort to besmirch Peyton's reputation will not be permitted to tarnish the legacy of a great Colt.
Manning, who joined the Broncos in 2012, has been taken off the starting roster since Nov. 15 due to a left foot injury. Brock Osweiler will make his sixth consecutive start in Manning's place Monday night when the Broncos (10-4) will play the Cincinnati Bengals (11-3) in Denver.