Aw man, here we go again.
In the Al-Jazeera documentary, The Dark Side: Secrets of the Sports Dopers, Peyton Manning was added to the long list of athletes associated with performance-enhancing drugs. The allegations were made by Charlie Sly, a former employee at the Guyer Institute, a molecular medicine clinic where Peyton and his wife, Ashley, were clients. As you may recall—especially if you are an Indianapolis Colts fan—in 2013, Peyton was still recovering from four neck surgeries which resulted in him missing the entire 2012 NFL season. Sly claims that in 2013, HGH (human growth hormone) was sent from the Guyer Institute to the Manning’s home, but addressed to Ashley. The NFL has banned its players from using HGH since 2011, but did not start testing its players for the hormone until 2014. Al Jazeera’s Deborah Davies—the narrator of the report—says that the documentary was not intended to implicate Peyton as an HGH user, but simply that it was shipped to his household.
Peyton has since described the allegations as “garbage” and is particularly upset that Ashley is involved in the story. “It makes me sick that it [the documentary] brings Ashley into it, her medical history, her medical privacy being violated,” said Peyton.
So what is a Manning to do? To prove defamation, the Manning’s will have to prove: 1) the statement was false and defamatory, and 2) the statement was made to a third party. Lastly, since Peyton is a public figure—a celebrity with influence in society— he will have to prove that the statement was made with reckless disregard of the truth.
That should not be difficult for whatever high-priced lawyers the Manning’s probably have on retainer. Since the release of the documentary, Sly has said that the reports regarding Manning are false. Moreover, Dr. Dale Guyer of the Guyer Institute has said with “absolute certainty” that they are untrue. Furthermore, the documentary has since been added to YouTube, which as of December 30, 2015, has over 440,000 views.
But what about his wife, Ashley? Most of her familiarity in the public eye is due to her relationship with Peyton. She also has some featured articles in publications such as Sports Illustrated and Indianapolis Woman Magazine. Also, if you do a Google search on Ashley, you will find those articles, banquet and wedding day photos, and other articles on the HGH scandal. It is arguable that Ashley is a public figure as well, and the same elements to prove that Peyton was injured can also be used for her.
If the reports made in the documentary are found to be false, it is unfortunate that the Manning’s had to be associated with these statements. Peyton is the all-time NFL leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns. In sports, allegations of using performance enhancing drugs have the potential to tarnish the legacy of a player and his accomplishments.
If you want to hear the HGH allegations with your own ears, the documentary can be found here, with the Manning allegations starting around the 40:45 mark.
There is at least one sigh of relief amongst the controversy—we don’t have to worry about not seeing Peyton in anymore awesome Papa John’s commercials. Hopefully, Nationwide is stillby his side.