Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning again went public with his denial of performance-enhancing-drug use in an interview with ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown.
"It's a joke. It's a freaking joke," Manning said, per Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated. "I'd love to understand why this guy is saying this."
"That stings me whoever this guy is insinuating that I cut corners, I broke NFL rules in order to get healthy," Manning continued, per Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post.
The Indianapolis Colts issued a statement after Manning's comments, defending their former quarterback, via Lindsay Jones of USA Today:
ESPN's Adam Schefter was impressed with Manning's denial:
Manning, 39, is accused of receiving shipments of PEDs in The Dark Side: Secrets of the Sports Dopers, an Al Jazeera documentary that's expected to expose multiple players across all sports. The man at the center of the story, Charlie Sly, said he made up the story in an interview with ESPN.com.
"When I was there, I had never seen the Mannings ever. They were not even living there at that time," Sly said. "Someone who worked there said they had been there before. That was the extent of any knowledge I had. I feel badly. I never saw any files. This is just amazing that it reached this point."
Sly also named Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, Washington Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman, Mike Tyson and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison. However, he later recanted that as well, saying none were clients and he was merely testing the reporter, who was undercover.
"When I realized Al Jazeera was using a secret taping and [British hurdler Liam] Collins as a so-called investigative reporter, I was baffled," Sly said. "I cannot believe that can happen. That's why I recanted the story. It wasn't true, and I was trying to pull one over on Collins to see if he had any idea of what he was talking about."
The documentary alleges that Manning received shipments of HGH in his wife, Ashley's, name in 2011. At the time, Manning was recovering from multiple neck surgeries and his career was in jeopardy.
He returned with the Broncos in 2012, eventually setting a record for touchdowns in a single season and breaking multiple all-time marks. Conor Orr of NFL.com noted Manning said it "makes me sick" his wife's medical history and privacy were violated.
"I don't understand how someone can make something up, admit he made it up...and have that become a story," Manning said, per Burke.
The NFL has not commented on the allegations. Mark Maske of the Washington Post reported the league will look into the allegations.
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