Ari Fleischer, hired P.R. gun for Peyton Manning, has pointed out that Manning never failed a drug test for HGH. This claim overlooks the reality that the NFL didn’t test for HGH until September 2014.
Prior to that, all players were on the honor system. And with various players suggesting over the years both on and off the record that plenty of players were using HGH, it would be easy for someone to rationalize using it, based on the notion that plenty of the other players on the field used it, too.
Then there’s the fact that, during the 2011 lockout (which lasted more than four months, from March 11 through late July), players arguably were free to do whatever they wanted to do, because the NFL had no jurisdiction over them. That theory applies even more forcefully to guys like Manning, who was a free agent after the 2010 season and didn’t sign a new contract with the Colts until July 31.
While HGH use under the circumstances alleged by Al Jazeera would have violated the law, it potentially violated no policy of the NFL, since there were no policies to be violated because the union had shut down and the league had locked out all players pending the negotiation of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. If the NFL chooses to investigate this matter (for now, the NFL has said nothing), it’s an important point to keep in mind.