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The NY Times Did Some Digging And It Turns Out The Peyton Manning HGH "Non Story" Is Quite The Story

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(NYT)When last seen, Charles Sly starred in a do-it-yourself YouTube confession in which he insisted that everything he had said to an undercover Al Jazeera reporter about banned substances and professional athletes, including Peyton Manning and Ryan Howard, had been a fabulous lie. “To be clear,” Sly said, “I am recanting any such statements, and there is no truth to any statement of mine.” Manning denounced Sly as a liar, as did the quarterback’s spokesman, Ari Fleischer, who accused Al Jazeera of deeply irresponsible journalism. “Al Jazeera is backtracking and retreating,” said Fleischer, a former press secretary for President George W. Bush. Maybe they are right. Maybe Sly is a truth-challenged, unmade bed of a man who spins slanderous tales. Or maybe, as Sly claimed, he intentionally fed misleading information to Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter.

With the help of my New York Times colleagues Ken Belson and Doris Burke, I scrutinized the list of names, and it soon appeared less random than at first blush. Nearly all of the athletes Sly named are clients of Jason Riley, a fitness trainer based in Sarasota, Fla. Here is where Sly’s story becomes more intriguing. Sly is a business partner of Riley’s. When Sly applied for a pharmacist’s license in Florida, he used Riley’s home address. Riley and Sly founded Elementz Nutrition, a nutritional supplement company whose website and Facebook page feature many of the athletes Sly mentioned on camera. Zimmerman was featured on the website; Howard, Neal and Keller (who is also featured on the website) appeared on the Facebook page.

Riley’s work as a trainer is so celebrated that he was called “baseball’s M.V.P. of the post-steroids era” by Men’s Fitness magazine. His most famous client, the man whose career he was credited with reshaping and saving from mortality’s shadow, was Derek Jeter. In 2010, a few years into Riley’s makeover, The Daily News proclaimed: “Derek is turning back the clock at short.” ESPN declared that Riley had “dumped the Captain into a hot tub time machine” and turned him into a 25-year-old.

Howard and Zimmerman let their lawyer, William Burck, address the Al Jazeera documentary: He called it reckless, wholly false and unsubstantiated. On Tuesday, both players filed suit against Al Jazeera. Manning, too, has rumbled about filing a lawsuit. Zimmerman’s photo disappeared from the Elementz website last week.

The Al Jazeera documentary was only the latest report to reveal sports doping as a spider’s web that stretches across continents and oceans. You wonder if the pro league chieftains, Rob Manfred in baseball and the N.F.L. sachem Roger Goodell, have paid attention, and have the stomach to pursue these strands. They might want to hurry. Last week, Elementz Nutrition voluntarily dissolved and closed its doors.


Well, well, wellllll folks it looks like we might have a story here afterall. Despite what Jim Nantz thinks, despite what Boomer Esiason, Peter King, Phil Simms, and basically everyone at ESPN thinks, there appears to be some meat on these bones. When you think about it, it’s fucking hilarious that it took this long to discover all this. It just goes to prove to you how few people were actually looking into it. I mean they all have the same trainer? That was the great mystery here? I’ll admit that finding out Sly and Jason Riley started a “nutrition” company together probably took some digging, but all it took to find the connection between all these guys was literally looking through their Facebook pictures and no one did it. Last week Peter King said “reporting takes time,” as if he was actually going to investigate this, and it really doesn’t even take time here, it took a social media search and a quick Google. That’s all it took to uncover BALCO 2.0.


But whatever, I’m over it. The media pulls out all the stops to rip down a champion like Tom Brady and they just kinda say “Eh, who cares?” about a guy who has been one and done in the playoffs NINE times. That seriously does make sense. But what’s interesting now is the fact that Ryan Howard and Ryan Zimmerman are suing Al Jazeera. While it’s an impossible case to win, Peyton has to do it now or he’s just admitting guilt (disclaimer: I still don’t care he did it, I think they should be openly allowed to). So now it’s basically all the questions that faced Tom Brady last summer. How far is he wiling to go? Is he gonna stand and fight for his innocence and see this through or is he going to weather the storm for a few more weeks then retire? Will he take it all the way to court and swear under oath that he never received HGH? Let’s find out!


That last sentence is great though. After the Al Jazeera video was released the whole fucking company just locked its doors, flushed all its supplements down the drain, and burned all its records. Nothing suspicious there. If Tom Brady not wanting to show Goodell his wife’s nudes was worthy of a guilty verdict, what’s this?


PS – Kevin already did a whole Jeter blog so I didn’t really mention that. But Jeter and Manning wrapped in an HGH story that broke two days after Christmas? Talk about the best holiday ever for Boston sports fans.


PPS – I will give normal people a pass for not listening to this early on. Not journalists, but regular citizens. Because Charles Sly is a TOUGH name to trust. I’ll admit that.