Peyton Manning, in an interview with ESPN on Sunday, vehemently denied allegations in an al-Jazeera report that an Indianapolis anti-aging clinic supplied him with human growth hormone in 2011.
“It’s completely fabricated. Complete trash, garbage,” Manning said. “There are some more adjectives I’d like to be able to use, but it really makes me sick. It makes me sick that it brings Ashley (his wife) into it, her medical history, her medical privacy being violated.”
According to the al-Jazeera documentary ” The Dark Side,” British hurdler Liam Collins went undercover to expose the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports. As part of his report, Collins met with Charles Sly, a man labeled in the documentary as a former pharmacist at the Guyer Institute in Indianapolis. Sly said he mailed HGH to Manning’s wife, Ashley, to avoid any link to the quarterback.
Manning said Sunday he never has met Sly and had never heard of him before the report was published.
“Any medical treatment that my wife receives, that’s her business,” Manning said. “It has nothing to do with me. I have my treatments that I do. She may have hers, and that’s her business. There’s no connection between the two. I’d love to understand why this guy is saying this, why he’s making it up, that he admits that he makes it up and yet it still becomes a story. I’d like to be told and explained that.”
Manning missed the 2011 NFL season to recover from four neck surgeries and joined the Broncos as a free agent before the 2012 season.
The NFL added HGH to its list of banned substances in 1991, but the league and players did not agree on testing until 2011, when they ratified the collective bargaining agreement. Testing was not implemented until 2014.
Manning acknowledged that he was a patient of the Guyer Institute to help his recovery from the neck surgeries but was adamant he did not receive any performance-enhancing drugs.
“The time ended up being probably my best medicine, along with a lot of hard work, and that really stings me that whoever this guy is insinuating I cut corners, I broke NFL rules, in order to get healthy,” Manning said. “It’s a joke. It’s a freaking joke.”
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Sly later recanted the allegations in a video statement, saying they were “false and incorrect.” Sly said Collins took advantage of him during a vulnerable time in his life after the death of his fiancée.
Ari Fleischer, who heads a sports communications company and is an adviser to Manning, slammed the accusations in an interview with The Denver Post on Saturday night, calling the report “junk journalism.” Online records show Sly was licensed as a pharmacy intern in Indiana from April 27, 2010, to May 1, 2013. According to Fleischer, Sly was an unpaid intern at the Guyer Institute in 2013 from February to May. Sly confirmed to ESPN on Saturday that he worked at the institute in 2013, not in 2011, as the al-Jazeera report alleges. Manning was a patient of the institute in fall 2011 for rehabilitation from the neck surgeries but has not been back since, Fleischer said.
Dr. Dale Guyer, in a statement released Sunday, corroborated those accounts, while also denouncing the al-Jazeera report:
“I have no reason to believe these allegations are based in fact or have any truth. In fact, I can say with absolute certainty they are not,” Guyer said. “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.”
In Sunday’s ESPN interview, Manning detailed the treatments he received and disputed the claim that he and his wife visited the clinic after normal business hours to receive intravenous treatments.
“Hyperbaric chamber. Went with the Colts trainers, Colts doctors,” Manning told ESPN. “Hyperbaric chamber. Something called (EECP, enhanced external counterpulsation), which is supposed to create blood flow in your muscles. You’re supposed to do 35 consecutive days of treatments. I did all 35 days, for an hour of treatment.”
Manning said he received treatments, which also included nutrient intravenous therapies, at 9 a.m. daily, and all were authorized by the Colts.
“They knew about it. They went with me,” Manning said. “Anything else this guy is insinuating is complete garbage.”
In speaking to ESPN on Sunday, Manning acknowledged the air of skepticism that often follows the success of athletes but continued to strongly deny any wrongdoing.
“I can’t speak for any other athlete,” he said. “I know what I’ve done. I know how hard I’ve worked during my 18 years of playing in the NFL. There are no shortcuts in the NFL. I’ve done it the long way. I’ve done it the hard way. Insinuating anything otherwise is a complete and total joke. It’s defamation, and it really ticks me off.”
Shortly before the interview, the Broncos released a statement saying the team supports him “100 percent” and that “these are false claims made to al-Jazeera, and we don’t believe the report.”
Later Sunday, the Colts also released a statement, saying Manning “never took any shortcuts, and it would be absurd to suggest he would have taken prohibited performance-enhancing drugs.”
Nicki Jhabvala: firstname.lastname@example.org or @NickiJhabvala