In 2015, Al Jazeera America ran “The Dark Side: Secrets of the Sports Dopers,” a documentary in which the now-defunct network levied performance-enhancing-substance allegations against multiple professional athletes, including former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning. Al Jazeera’s primary source, pharmacist Charlie Sly, later recanted the information he had provided.
Whether Sly was sincere in his recanting his claims immediately became subject of debate. The story briefly gained national attention, but largely has been forgotten — until now.
Shortly after the story broke, two of the athletes cited by Al Jazeera, former MLB stars Ryan Howard and Ryan Zimmerman, filed defamation lawsuits against the network. The case has been shrouded in mystery, but Hollywood Reporter provided clarity Friday by sharing recently unsealed court documents.
In one of the documents, Al Jazeera claims that Manning’s lawyer, former United States Solicitor General Ted Olson, contacted Robert Corn-Revere of DWT, the firm providing outside counsel to Al Jazeera, before the documentary aired. Al Jazeera claims that during that conversation, Manning, through Olson, confirmed much of what Sly told the network.
“In their communications with DWT, the Mannings’ lawyers confirmed much of what Sly had said,” the court papers state, via Hollywood Reporter. Exactly what Olson told Corn-Revere remains redacted.
In response to the leaking of the documents, a spokesperson for Manning provided the following statement to Hollywood Reporter:
“Al Jazeera’s self-serving claim that Peyton Manning’s attorneys ‘confirmed’ Al Jazeera’s allegations about Peyton Manning is absolutely false, the spokesperson said. “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.”
As the spokesperson noted, the NFL investigated Manning in 2016, and concluded there was “no credible evidence” linking him to the use of human-growth hormone.
Al Jazeera shut down in April 2016, roughly three months after the bombshell documentary first aired.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images
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