The week began with Peyton Manning calling a report about his reluctance to be a backup to Brock Osweiler “bullsh-t and insulting.” It’s ending with a strong reaction to a report about far more important matters.
Via Huffington Post, Al Jazeera America reports that an Indianapolis drug ring supplied Manning with HGH in 2011, as he was recovering from multiple neck surgeries while still with the Colts.
“The allegation that I would do something like that is complete garbage and is totally made up,” Peyton Manning said in a personal statement that was provided to PFT by the Broncos. “It never happened. Never. I really can’t believe somebody would put something like this on the air. Whoever said this is making stuff up.”
The allegation comes in a documentary dubbed The Dark Side, in which British hurdler Liam Collins went undercover “to expose the widespread nature of performance-enhancing drugs in global sports.” The documentary raises questions about many players, including Manning.
In the movie, a pharmacist who worked at the the Guyer Institute in Indianapolis tells Collins (who recorded video and audio secretly) that HGH was regularly sent to Manning’s wife, Ashley, during his recovery more than four years ago.
“All the time we would be sending Ashley Manning drugs,” says Charlie Sly to Collins. “Like growth hormone, all the time, everywhere, Florida. And it would never be under Peyton’s name, it would always be under her name.”
Manning’s agent (who isn’t named but is presumably Tom Condon of CAA) previously denied the allegation.
Peyton “has never done what this person is suggesting,” the agent told Al Jazeera. “The treatment he received at the Guyer Institute was provided on the advice of his physician and with the knowledge of team doctors and trainers. . . . Any medical treatment received by Ashley is a private matter of hers, her doctor, and her family.”
In 2011, HGH was on the NFL’s list of banned substances. However, the league and the NFL Players Association had not yet agreed on a testing procedure. So players were essentially on the honor system.
Manning could, in theory, choose to sue the filmmaker or Sly for defamation. Because Manning is a public figure, he’d have to prove that the statements were made with “actual malice,” which means that the persons knew the information was false or acted with reckless disregard to the truth or falsity of the information. Al Jazeera potentially satisfied that standard by seeking and including a statement from Manning’s agent.