(Reuters) - Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning denied an Al-Jazeera report that he took human growth hormone (HGH) following neck surgery in 2011, but on Sunday acknowledged he visited a clinic that allegedly supplied the banned substance.
Meanwhile, the source of the Al-Jazeera report that the anti-aging clinic in Indianapolis provided HGH to Manning recanted his allegations in a video statement.
Manning, who missed the entire 2011 National Football League season with a serious neck injury, says the news network’s report is completely fabricated. Manning was with the Indianapolis Colts that year.
“Disgusted is how I feel, sickened,” he told ESPN on Sunday in his first interview since the report was made public. “In 2011, when I more or less had a broken neck, four neck surgeries, I busted my butt to get healthy. I saw a lot of doctors.”
Asked if he had ever used HGH, Manning said “absolutely not” but he acknowledged he visited the Guyer Clinic to use a hyperbaric chamber and receive various other treatments that he said were not banned.
“Everything was under Colts’ authorization,” he said. “Time ended up being probably my best medicine, along with a lot of hard work.”
Earlier, the Broncos said they support the 39-year-old quarterback 100 percent.
“These are false claims made to Al-Jazeera, and we don’t believe the report,” the team said in a statement.
The Colts also came to Manning’s defense.
“Peyton played the game in Indianapolis for 14 years the right way,” the team said. “He never took any shortcuts and it would be absurd to suggest he would have taken prohibited performance enhancing drugs.”
The clinic, The Guyer Institute, denies any wrongdoing and says that Charles Sly, the man who made the allegations to an undercover reporter, did not work at the clinic in 2011, but rather was an intern during 2013.
Sly said the clinic also provided HGH to some other NFL players and several Major League Baseball players.
In a YouTube statement given before the Al-Jazeera broadcast, Sly said Al-Jazeera recorded him without his knowledge or consent.
“The statements on any recordings or communications that Al-Jazeera plans to air are absolutely false and incorrect,” Sly said. “To be clear, I am recanting any such statements and there is no truth to any statement of mine that Al-Jazeera plans to air.”
The NFL collective bargaining agreement, ratified in 2011, banned HGH. But players weren’t tested for the banned substance until 2014. No NFL player has tested positive for HGH.
Additional reporting and writing by Kevin Murphy; Editing by Phil Berlowitz