Peyton Manning HGH story rapidly falling apart


Al Jazeera recently ran a documentary linking Peyton Manning to HGH use, but just two days later it has fallen to pieces.

In 2011, Peyton Manning underwent a spinal fusion surgery in his neck to repair nerve damage. It cost him the season, led to his release from the Colts after 14 years, and Indianapolis drafting Andrew Luck, taking the franchise in a new direction.

Manning spent much of 2011 trying to regain the use of his throwing arm. He reportedly couldn’t throw the ball more than a few yards and the future of his career was seriously in doubt. Manning went to some extreme measures, including traveling to Europe for stem cell treatment that isn’t available in the United States.

On Sunday, a documentary on Al Jazeera ran that linked Manning to possibly taking human growth hormone (HGH), a banned steroid in the NFL. According to the documentary, “The Dark Side”, Manning was given HGH through his wife, Ashley, who could have been receiving fertility treatment from the Guyer Institute in Indianapolis.

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The allegations were made through Charlie Sly, who was a student intern at the Guyer Institute, in an illegally record video. Sly immediately recanted his statements on Sunday after news of the documentary broke.

The Guyer Institute says that Sly wasn’t an intern until 2013, although Al Jazeera released a conversation that indicated he was there in 2011 on Monday.

Today, Al Jazeera tried to make it clear that they weren’t accusing Manning of taking HGH.

"“We have not said that in the program,” Deborah Davies said, via SportsBusiness Daily. “The only allegation in the program from Charlie Sly is that growth hormone was sent repeatedly from the Guyer [Institute] to Ashley Manning in Florida. We’re not making the allegation against Peyton Manning.”Added Davies elsewhere in the interview:  “Let’s make it clear what the allegation is. The allegation in the program is very simple, that when Charlie Sly worked in the Guyer [Institute] doing part of his training . . . the clinic was sending out not one shipment but repeated shipments of growth hormone to Ashley Manning in Florida. That’s it.”"

But it is strongly inferred that Peyton was the one taking the shipments of HGH. Sly directly links Ashley to her husband, and is not subtle that he’s indicating Peyton being the real customer.

So Al Jazeera is walking back their accusations, likely in the wake of Peyton threatening a defamation lawsuit, even after they doubled down on the documentary being legitimate in its accusations.

We have an awful lot of holes forming in this story. Keep in mind that Al Jazeera is a legitimate news organization, but diving into this sort of story seems awfully far out of their depth.

Here are the problems with this rapidly decaying claim:

  • The employment dispute. When was Sly a small time intern at the Guyer Institute? Was it 2013 or 2011. Seems like it would be very easy to get that information from Dr. Dale Guyer. Additionally, why would an intern have access to this kind of information? If Peyton was getting HGH, you can bet that as few people as possible would know about out. For someone as intelligent and meticulous as Peyton, this whole situation seems exceedingly sloppy.
  • The Manning Twins. It is highly likely that Ashley was a patient undergoing IVF fertility treatment at the Guyer Institute. Given her age and the fact she had twins, it is very possible that she needed help getting pregnant. The kids were born in 2011.
  • Would HGH even help? According to Dr. David Cho, no it wouldn’t. The first few paragraphs relate to Peyton’s situation, and it doesn’t sound like HGH would even help him with this specific issue. Some informations goes as far as to say that taking HGH could undo the benefits of the spinal fusion. From Cho’s piece:
    • “HGH is known to help with growth of muscle, bone and cartilage (primarily in kids). Peyton’s issue was radiculopathy where the nerve to the arm was compressed. There is no proven role for HGH in radiculopathy.”
      “Could it have been used to help strengthen his weakened arm? I suppose that is possible but that performance enhancement usage is also unproven. A 2010 study showed that HGH did not improve strength, power or endurance, but it did help speed in sprinting sports. Absolutely no one has accused Manning of having speed.”
  • Al Jazeera’s reaction. First they doubled down on the authenticity of Sly’s statements and employment. Then today started distancing themselves from the documentary saying it wasn’t accusing anyone of anything. You can’t shift the entire focus of the documentary to Peyton once he is brought up and then back away like nothing happened. Saying you’re not accusing someone of something doesn’t mean that isn’t what you are actually doing.

There are sure to be more cracks in this story in the near future as more information comes out. Considering that, and the amount of disbelief around the league, it really doesn’t feel like Peyton did anything that would tarnish his legacy (unless you are a Patriots fan).