A spokesperson for Peyton Manning issued a statement Friday denying that lawyers representing the two-time Super Bowl champion corroborated claims of performance-enhancing drug use, as initially alleged in a 2015 Al-Jazeera documentary The Dark Side: Secrets of the Sports Dopers.
"Al Jazeera's self-serving claim that Peyton Manning’s attorneys 'confirmed' Al Jazeera’s allegations about Peyton Manning is absolutely false," the spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter's Eriq Gardner. "In fact, information was provided to Al Jazeera that confirmed the Al Jazeera allegations about Peyton Manning were unfounded. In addition, the sole source for Al Jazeera's allegations has publicly recanted them. Moreover, the NFL conducted an extensive investigation of the claims raised in Al Jazeera’s programs and found no evidence to support them. This is a desperate move by Al Jazeera to distract the courts from its own wrongdoing."
The response from Manning's representative came after court documents in Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Howard's defamation suit against Al Jazeera were unsealed, per Gardner.
According to the documents, Charles Sly—who Al Jazeera said worked at the Guyer Institute in Indianapolis—made the following statement:
"I did part of my training at the Guyer Institute which is like this anti-aging clinic in Indiana. [Peyton Manning] and his wife would come in after hours and get IVs and s--t. ... So one thing that Guyer does is he dispenses drugs out of his office, which physicians can do in the United States it’s just not very many of them do it. ... And all the time we would be sending [wife] Ashley Manning drugs. Like growth hormone, all the time, everywhere, Florida. And it would never be under Peyton’s name, it would always be under her name. ... We were sending it everywhere."
That comment was relayed to Manning's representatives who, according to a document, "confirmed much of what Sly had said."
Al Jazeera also said "the second corroborating source for some of Sly’s statements was the Mannings, who voluntarily communicated facts to Al Jazeera through their lawyers at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher."
Before the documentary aired, Sly recanted his statements about Manning.
"Any recordings of me were made without my knowledge or consent," he said at the time (h/t Justin Moyer of the Washington Post). "It is my belief that an individual named Liam Collins secretly made those recordings. Liam is a recruited fraudster who is banned in his native United Kingdom from running any investment businesses. The statements on any recordings or communications that Al Jazeera plans to air are absolutely false and incorrect."
However, per Gardner, Al Jazeera has asserted Sly's recantation "rang hollow" because he "appeared to be reading a statement that was prepared for him while sweating profusely, and his statements about Liam Collins’ character were clearly based on information that had been supplied to Sly."
After the allegations first surfaced, Manning dismissed them as "complete trash" and "garbage."
The NFL later conducted its own investigation into Manning's alleged use of human growth hormone but "found no credible evidence" of wrongdoing by the five-time MVP.