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Peyton Manning Denies Report Of Performance Enhancing Drug Use

Al Jazeera reported that Manning in 2011 used human growth hormone, a claim that the NFL quarterback vehemently denied, as did the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts.

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An investigation by Al Jazeera released Sunday reported that NFL star Peyton Manning in 2011 used human growth hormone, a performance enhancing drug.

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Titled "The Dark Side," the hourlong documentary followed former British hurdler Liam Collins as he went undercover to speak with pharmacists, doctors, and others who said they had been involved with supplying performance enhancing drugs to athletes.

The report was vehemently denied by Manning, the Denver Broncos, as well as his former team, the Indianapolis Colts.

Peyton Manning on the "garbage" accusations and his rehab work:

"It's completely fabricated," Manning told ESPN, adding that he was furious and disgusted. "Complete trash, garbage."

Al Jazeera's report was based on a secret recording of an interview with Charlie Sly, who in 2011 worked at an anti-aging clinic that treated Manning after he broke his neck.

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Sly first told Al Jazeera that Manning and his wife, Ashley, would receive IV treatments after hours at the clinic. Sly also said shipments of human growth hormone were sent to Ashley Manning, which he believed were actually used by her husband.

Sly later said that he did not know he was being recorded and his statements were false.

"I am recanting any such statements and there is no truth to any statement of mine that Al Jazeera plans to air," he said.

In an interview with MSNBC following Sly's recanting of his statements, Al Jazeera investigative journalist Deborah Davies defended the report.

Davies said she absolutely sticks by Al Jazeera's reporting. "Look at [Sly's] demeanor in those conversations," Davies said, referring the more than 20 hours of secretly recorded interviews with Sly. "He's giving fact upon fact upon fact,"

Al Jazeera issued a request for Sly to respond to the interviews three weeks before the documentary aired, Davies said. He did not respond until the day of release.

When asked about Sly's claim that Collins had used Sly's grief over his recently deceased fiancée to "badger him" into giving Collins information, Davies said no one at Al Jazeera was aware of Sly's fiancée's recent suicide.

Davies added that though both Manning and Sly have dismissed the report, no one has denied Al Jazeera's claim that HGHs were shipped to Ashley Manning in 2011.


In 2011, Manning was treated at the Guyer Institute of Molecular Medicine as he worked to recover from a severe neck injury and resulting surgeries.

The Guyer Institute of Molecular Medicine / Via

In his recovery, Manning underwent a number of procedures — including reports of stem cell injections in Europe.

Manning told ESPN that he was treated at the clinic with the guidance of Colts' medical team. He said he received treatments in a hyperbaric chamber as well as receiving nutrients through IV — during business hours.

Any medication that may have been mailed to his wife was her private affair, he added.

"Nothing that's ever been sent to her or my wife has used have I ever taken," he told ESPN. "Absolutely not. I have my treatments that I do. She may have hers, and that's her business."

Legal prescription of human growth hormone in the U.S. is extremely limited; in adults, use includes complications of HIV, pituitary tumors, and shortened bowels.

M. Spencer Green / AP

Athletes may illegally use the drug as they seek to build muscle and heal more quickly from injuries.

Some speculate its use in pro sports is rampant. It is prohibited by the NFL, and last year, random testing began after years of negotiations between the league and the players union.

In the first year, 790 tests revealed that no players were using the drug, USA Today reported.

Some scientists have called the test used by the NFL useless; it reliably catches only those who have used the hormone within the last 10 to 20 hours.

The Broncos and the Colts released statements Sunday that they believed in Manning's integrity.

"Throughout his NFL career, particularly during his four seasons with the Broncos, Peyton has shown nothing but respect for the game," his team said. "Our organization is confident Peyton does things the right way, and we do not find this story to be credible."

Manning has been out of play and team practices since November due to a foot injury.

The Colts added the team was aware of the details Manning's medical history as well as his work ethic following injury.

"Peyton played the game in Indianapolis for 14 years the right way," the team said. "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."

Claudia Koerner is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Claudia Koerner at

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