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Peyton Manning ‘welcomes’ NFL probe into ‘garbage’ HGH allegations

Peyton Manning takes the podium to respond to questions Thursday. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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It’s somewhat remarkable that Cam Newton has jumped out as the Super Bowl Quarterback of Interest, at least initially, given that the other quarterback in the game is a) one of the best to ever play and b) currently under investigation by the NFL for past use of human growth hormone. But that’s not to say that Peyton Manning is being allowed to prepare for the Big Game with no scrutiny at all, and it didn’t take long Thursday before he was asked about Al Jazeera’s December report linking him with HGH.

Current version of Peyton Manning among worst-ever Super Bowl starting QBs

In comments to reporters, the Denver Broncos quarterback repeated his strong denials that the report, which included an allegation that HGH and other drugs were shipped to Manning in 2011 under the name of his wife, had any validity. He was asked about news that the NFL was already several weeks into what it described as a “comprehensive” investigation.

“Just like I said in December, I do welcome it,” Manning said (via Newsday). “It’s no news to me.”
He added, “I still stand by what I said then, that I welcome it and it’s garbage from the first day it came out and it’s still garbage today.”

On whether the league’s probe presented a distraction as he prepared to take on the Carolina Panthers on Feb. 7, Manning said, “None, no.”

Manning sat out the entire 2011 season as he attempted to recover from multiple neck surgeries. In December, Al Jazeera cited secret recordings in reporting that an intern at an Indianapolis anti-aging clinic had claimed that his company had delivered HGH to the quarterback’s home, using the name of his wife, Ashley, to deter suspicion.

“All the time we would be sending Ashley Manning drugs,” the intern, Charlie Sly, told Al Jazeera (via Huffington Post) in a video it published. “Like growth hormone, all the time, everywhere, Florida. And it would never be under Peyton’s name, it would always be under her name.”

Shortly after that report was released, Manning told ESPN, “It’s completely fabricated, complete trash, garbage — there’s more adjectives I’d like to be able to use. It makes me sick that it brings Ashley into it, her medical history, her medical privacy being violated. That makes me sick. I don’t understand that.”

Manning then expressed outrage at the implication that he had cheated his way back into the league, telling ESPN, “What hurts me most about this is whoever this guy is, this slapstick trying to insinuate that in 2011 when I more or less had a broken neck — I don’t know, four neck surgeries, I’m sure there’s a difference in there, but I had a bad neck — I busted my butt to get healthy. I put in a lot of hard work. … Time ended up being probably my best medicine along with a lot of hard work. It really stings me, whoever this guy is, insinuating that I cut corners, I broke NFL rules.”

Sly subsequently recanted his claims. However, the NFL made it clear that it is still looking into the allegations, and, with 10 days to go before the Super Bowl, Manning will almost certainly face more questions about them.

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