Peyton Manning found himself embroiled in scandal when an Al Jazeera documentary linked the Denver Broncos quarterback to shipments of human growth hormone (HGH).
Manning vehemently denied that he has ever used HGH and the source for that story, a former intern at an anti-aging clinic in Indianapolis, has since recanted the statements he made in a secretly recorded conversation with an undercover reporter.
That intern, Charles Sly, also spoke with Chris Mortensen of ESPN to explain why he made the entire story up.
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First of all, Sly reiterated to Mortensen that he manufactured the entire story and confirmed that he was only employed at the clinic in 2013, two years after Manning was a patient.
As to why Sly made up the allegations about Manning and other athletes, this is where it gets confusing. It starts with the undercover reporter used by Al Jazeera, Liam Collins.
Collins, a former hurdler for Great Britain, spoke with Sly, and others, under the guise of an older athlete (he is 38) looking for something to help him reclaim his top form. According Mortensen, Sly was looking to get into the athlete supplement business and, through some mutual contacts, met with Collins believing he could help Sly contact top soccer players in the English Premier League.
"[Sly] wanted to get into the supplementation business and [Collins] had told [Sly] that there were a lot of prominent Premier League athletes, soccer players, that he could bring business to Sly and some other people he was working with," Mortensen said on ESPN Radio.
See photos of the players named in Al Jazeera's report
However, prior to going undercover for Al Jazeera — and after a stint as a dancer on "Britain's Got Talent" — Collins was caught in a scandal of his own in which he was accused of duping investors out of more than $1 million in a real estate scheme.
This may have led to Sly not trusting Collins as a potential business associate.
"He really attacked Liam Collins, who was the guy who secretly taped him," Mortensen continued. "I asked, 'Well, why would you do that?' He said, 'I was trying to test him and press him, see if he would steal my information, because that is what he did with his investors over in Great Britain'
"He said he wanted to throw out different names, and whether they were treated at the Guyer Institute," Mortensen continued. "He said he was trying to use different names to test this guy's knowledge, Liam Collins' knowledge, on players. and he tried to change up each story with each guy just to see if this guy would try to gather any more information."
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As for why he used Manning's name even though he was no longer a patient at the clinic at the time Sly was employed there, Sly says he simply learned that Manning had been a patient there through other employees.
"I said, 'How did you come up with this story of Peyton and Ashley Manning?,'" Mortensen said. "And he said, 'Well, when I was working there for those three months, somebody said that they used to be patients there.'"
Sly also says he never saw any documentation to support what he had said about Manning.
Sly's story still doesn't clear up the picture completely, with Mortensen saying that despite emails, phone conversations, and forwarded text messages, he "still can't put that puzzle together."
However, it sounds like Sly wanted to get into the athlete supplement business. He thought he had one potential client in Collins, and that this one athlete might be able to hook Sly up with some big-name soccer players. Sly then may have thrown out the names of big American athletes to either up his street cred or to test Collins (or maybe both). Sly may have used the names of athletes known to have been clients at the Guyer Clinic in case Collins tried to verify the stories, only instead of taking the info to soccer players in England, Collins took the secret tape recordings to Al Jazeera.
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If this is indeed how the situation played out, it sounds like Peyton and his wife got caught in the middle simply because one overzealous former employee either oversold his own accomplishments in the business or just didn't trust a potential business associate who has a checkered financial history.
And if so, it is easy to understand why Manning is so upset.