The Al Jazeera correspondent behind the report linking Peyton Manning to performance-enhancing drugs now says her broadcast accused Ashley Manning, and not her star quarterback husband, of receiving human-growth hormone.
“We have not said that in the program,” Deborah Davies told the Today show regarding charges against Peyton Manning. “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.”
The statement represents a counter Kabuki dance of sorts. Manning’s camp says privacy laws prohibit disclosure of any treatment Mrs. Manning received from the Indiana-based Guyer Institute. The documentarians, in turn, insist they carefully laid an allegation at the feet of Mrs. Manning rather than the NFL’s all-time leader in yardage through the air and passing touchdowns. But doing so comes across as a read-between-the-lines allegation against Manning that allows Al Jazeera to effectively accuse Manning of malfeasance without exposing the network to legal repercussions in a manner akin to a professional athlete using his wife as a proxy to order drugs to exploit medical-privacy laws to shield against any investigations by sports authorities.
The documentary, The Dark Side: The Secret World of Sports Doping, awkwardly spoke of “extraordinary claims that raise questions whether an American sporting hero, Peyton Manning, is linked to performance-enhancing drugs.” Claims? Questions? Whether? Linked? The phraseology sounded careful enough to protect Al Jazeera but loaded enough to tar Manning.
Charlie Sly, the shady pharmacist who boasts of his associations with various sports stars in the documentary, now says the claims he made within earshot of a hidden recording device were lies. “Yeah, I probably will,” Peyton Manning says of a lawsuit. “I’m that angry.”