The NFL this morning wrapped up their seven-month investigation into claims made by Al Jazeera that former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning took human growth hormone (HGH) during his time with the Colts in 2011. The NFL "found no credible evidence" that Maning ever received or took HGH or other banned performance enhancing substances.
The league press release also emphasised the fact that both Peyton and his wife Ashley fully cooperated with the investigation, which included interviews and the Mannings giving the investigators access into all records sought. It's not hard to miss the message here: Peyton Manning fully cooperated with the investigation and was cleared, a contrast to Tom Brady, who didn't cooperate and was suspended four games for deflated footballs. There are other factors at play and we can’t compare the two situations, but it’s hard not to miss that emphasis.
The report from Al Jazeera was met with doubt and criticism from the start - especially since the only person making the claim backtracked from it and said he was making it up. Furthermore, even Al Jazeera backed off from the implication that Manning took HGH, later saying that they only mentioned that HGH was sent to Ashley Manning. For his part, Manning was very, very adamant that he never took any banned substances. It was a report that generated a lot of buzz for a couple of days but then went away as people began to realize that there wasn’t much credibility. It was clear that the NFL wasn’t going to take action unless they found more evidence on their own, and that obviously didn’t happen. The league said that the investigation into others mentioned in the report is ongoing, but that Manning has been cleared.
The NFL’s investigation into Manning was led by the league’s security and legal teams, though they also consulted with experts and other professionals. Their comprehensive investigation included the interviews with Peyton and Ashley Manning, a review of the relevant records and materials (and, as we mentioned, the Mannings made all documents necessary available), online research, and lab analysis and review. It seems like a pretty thorough investigation and again comes around to this point: there never seemed to be any credible evidence in the first place in the accusations by Al Jazeera, so it’s not surprising to see the league find no credible evidence after an investigation either. Simply put, Peyton Manning didn’t cheat by taking banned substances while with the Colts.