An investigation by Al Jazeera released Sunday reported that NFL star Peyton Manning in 2011 used human growth hormone, a performance enhancing drug.
The report was vehemently denied by Manning, the Denver Broncos, as well as his former team, the Indianapolis Colts.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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