As to the Al Jazeera doping-in-sports documentary, specifically the part about Peyton Manning and human growth hormone (HGH), the story struck me as possibly true. Anybody who is crazy enough to continue playing NFL football after four neck operations is capable of using HGH and lying about it.
Al Jazeera made their bones with me during the Arab Spring. They reported hard news, a blast of pure oxygen compared to the washed-out pablum CNN/FOX/MSNBC/NBC/CBS/ABC serves. (Al Jazeera won the 2015 Alfred I. duPont Award from Columbia University for excellence in broadcast and investigative journalism.)
On December 27, Al Jazeera America aired a special, The Dark Side: Secrets of the Sports Dopers. Deborah Davies is the investigative reporter and narrator of the documentary. According to Wikipedia, the program alleged that Peyton’s wife, Ashley, “...had been shipped off label human growth hormone by the Guyer Institute during the fall of 2011 while Manning was out with a severe neck injury, with the intention of hiding that Manning was the one actually receiving the drugs.”
Davies’s undercover investigator is Liam Collins. According to NBC News, Collins is “a British hurdler, [who] pretended to be a customer and recorded Charlie Sly, [a pharmacy intern at the Guyer Institute] talking about the likely NFL Hall of Famer using steroids prescribed to his wife.”
Charles Sly, Al Jazeera says, was a pharmacy intern at the Guyer Institute in 2011. Sly is recorded as saying, “All the time we would be sending Ashley Manning drugs, like a growth hormone, all the time, everywhere, Florida. And it would never be under Peyton’s name, always under her name.”
Davies’s reporting on Manning is sloppy. Sly was her only source. Live by one source, die by one source. Sly now says he did not work at the Guyer Institute in 2011. Earlier, Sly told Davies’s undercover investigator he did work at the Guyer Clinic in 2011. Dr. Dale Guyer, founder of the Guyer Institute, issued a statement saying Sly was an unpaid intern for three months in 2013 and did not work at the clinic in 2011.
Davies made a call to the clinic and recorded her conversation with the woman who answered the phone. A woman named “Heather” told Davies that Sly began work October 17, 2011, and stayed, “I think for a couple months. Like, three months, maybe.”
It doesn’t help that Davies’s undercover investigator, Liam Collins, is banned from directing any company in Britain for 14 years as a result of swindling real estate investors out of more than one million dollars.
Now Manning does a one-on-one interview with ESPN’s Lisa Salters in his Broncos uniform, denies everything. He appears genuinely angry, genuinely sincere, no tells. And then he said something that rings absurd, to wit: “Any medical treatment that my wife receives, that’s her business. 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.”
Of course there’s a connection. Iconic NFL quarterback’s spouse using HGH, prescribed or no, is a red flag. Remember Kristin Armstrong and Debbie Clemens?
Manning hired Ari Fleischer, George Bush the Younger’s press secretary, as his mouthpiece. Fleischer trots out the Lance Armstrong defense, Manning “has never used HGH, never failed any league drug tests.” NFL HGH tests didn’t begin until 2014. Players must receive 24-hour notice on game days, off days, and during the off season. Since the league’s HGH isomer test has a 10- to 20-hour detection window, players have a free pass to use.
If you’re Fleischer you look for an inconsistency and hammer on that. Hammer one are the dates Charles Sly worked as an intern at the Guyer Institute. Al Jazeera said he worked there in 2011, which coincides with Manning’s year of rehab. The institute says he was never there in 2011.
Hammer two is Charlie Sly, the former pharmacy intern who said Manning’s wife received shipments of human growth hormone. He was the lone source and has disavowed his previously recorded statement. Click here for a video of his disavow. If you believe he’s not reading from a lawyer’s brief, I want to be your financial manager.
On the other hand, Manning was a patient at the Guyer Institute in 2011, the year he was out rehabbing. Manning returned to the Broncos and had “...two out of the three best seasons in his career in 2012 and 2013.”
On the other, other hand, Manning entered Sunday’s game against the Chargers in the third quarter, his team behind 13-7, and engineered three scoring drives in three possessions. Broncos 27. Chargers 20.
I don’t believe anybody.