Following a documentary posted over the weekend on Al Jazeera’s website, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has vehemently denied allegations that he used human growth hormone (HGH), an illegal performance-enhancing drug.
“It absolutely never happened,” the National Football League (NFL) veteran told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. ”It’s such a fabrication, I’m not losing any sleep over it, that’s for sure.”
The documentary, entitled “The Dark Side,” sent immediate shockwaves rippling across the professional athletic community. In the film, British hurdler Liam Collins acts as an undercover reporter pretending to be interested in procuring illegal enhancements, according to the Huffington Post. Collins meets with Charlie Sly, a pharmacist who claims to have worked at Indianapolis’ anti-aging Guyer Institute in 2011, during the time Manning was being treated at Guyer following a surgery.
Collins secretly taped Sly saying he was “part of a medical team that helped [Manning] recover” by sending human growth hormone and other drugs in the mail addressed to Ashley Manning, Peyton’s wife. The documentary also alleges Major League Baseball (MLB) players Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals and Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies have used performance-enhancing drugs.
Representatives for both told the Washington Post that such claims are “completely false.”
The explosive allegations would prove deeply embarrassing if true. Performance-enhancing drugs, including human growth hormone, are banned by the NFL and MLB. However the NFL only started testing for HGH last year; so far no player has tested positive.
But the documentary’s claims are already under fire. Sly has since recanted his story, telling ESPN he is not a pharmacist and was not at the Guyer Institute in 2011. He also said he “made up” the story to Collins and “had never seen the Mannings ever.” (He also posted a video on YouTube.) According to state licensing records, ESPN says, Sly did have a pharmacy intern license in Indiana from April 2010 to May 2013.
For his part, Manning acknowledges he was a patient at the Guyer Institute, but maintains any therapy he received there was above-board. The Broncos have since expressed support for Manning on the team’s website. “Throughout his NFL career, particularly during his four seasons with the Broncos, Peyton has shown nothing but respect for the game,” the statement says. “Our organization is confident Peyton does things the right way, and we do not find this story to be credible.”
The National Football League and Major League Baseball have both said they will investigate the allegations.