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Peyton Manning accused of using HGH in 2011

Former Colts and current Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has been accused of using HGH in 2011 by the Huffington Post in an article based on an Al Jazeera documentary.

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A report tonight has linked former Colts and current Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning to HGH use in 2011 as he attempted to come back from a serious neck injury.  The report is from the Huffington Post and based on a documentary by Al Jazeera.

An undercover reporter spoke with a drug dealer in Texas who claims that Peyton Manning took human growth hormone in 2011 after it was banned by the league in that year's collective bargaining agreement.  Here's what the report states:

As part of the investigation, Collins connected with Charlie Sly, a pharmacist based in Austin, Texas, who worked at the Guyer Institute, the Indiana-based anti-aging clinic, in 2011.

Manning missed the 2011 season, when he was a member of the Indianapolis Colts, after undergoing neck surgery. In the documentary, Sly tells Collins, who is taking secret video of his interactions, that he was "part of a medical team that helped [Manning] recover" from the surgery. Sly alleges that the clinic mailed growth hormone and other drugs to Manning's wife, Ashley Manning, so that the quarterback's name was never attached to them.

"All the time we would be sending Ashley Manning drugs," Sly says in the video. "Like growth hormone, all the time, everywhere, Florida. And it would never be under Peyton's name, it would always be under her name."

This would be a shocking and damning report if true, as it would be one of the league's biggest and most likable stars engaged in cheating and taking performance enhancing drugs.  And, to be honest, there is a part of it that would make sense - at the time that Manning is alleged to have taken HGH, he was with the Indianapolis Colts and would miss the entire 2011 season due to a serious neck injury, one that threatened his career and required four surgeries.  In that situation, a player using HGH wouldn't be a total surprise, as it would make sense that he would try to continue his career however possible.

At the same time, however, let's keep this in mind: Manning has a very respectable reputation and is widely respected around the league and by many fans.  You can talk about him as a football player and whether you like or dislike him, but as a person he has a clean reputation.  Now, nobody is perfect and everyone has flaws and secrets, but this is basically pitting Manning's clean reputation against a drug dealer's word.  That doesn't mean that we discount the report (I don't think we should by any means), but we also have to use some caution as we approach it.  Furthermore, the report states that the drugs were shipped to Ashley Manning, and so while that would seem suspicious, there are also questions to be answered there as well.

And then, of course, comes this little piece of information buried late in the article that many are sure to miss:

Robertson, the pharmacist, and Spletzer, the neuropathic physician, did not respond to Al Jazeera's request for comment. Sly, when pressed by Al Jazeera, backtracked, saying that his claims about supplying the drugs to athletes were "false and incorrect."

So here you have the picture of a guy who was caught on a secret camera saying that they shipped drugs to Manning and then backing off of it.  Honestly, people will read into that whatever you want to - if you want to believe Manning did HGH, you'll just think the guy is covering it up after getting caught leaking it.  If you want to believe Manning didn't do HGH, you'll just think the guy is not trustworthy.  So realize that your opinion or desire will get in the way of how you see it, but it is very noteworthy that the sole person making these claims has denied them and said they are not true.

Ultimately, this will receive a lot of attention and will come under further scrutiny.  That is a good thing, as hopefully that will help lead to the truth of the matter.  But as of right now, this is a report worth noting but with a reasonable and fair amount of skepticism as we do so.  It might be true and it might not be, but let's not bury Peyton Manning just yet based on this one report from a guy who now denies the claims he made.