Hey Al Jazeera: Next Time You Slam Peyton Manning at Least Present Some Evidence

December 29, 2015

Over the holidays, I was rudely interrupted when my cell phone flashed a report naming Peyton Manning as a doper by Al Jazeera America, the Arab-backed news network. I have been a long-time student of Al Jazeera America, studying it to learn how the Arab network tries to shape US opinion. At times, I have seen it as savvy propagandist. Not this time. Rather, its Peyton Manning hatchet job was such a bad piece of investigative journalism as to render it laughable.

First off, the story relied on a proven fraudster to serve as an undercover agent hellbent on ensnaring drug pushers and their athlete customers. As the story went, Liam Collins claimed to be the world’s fastest age-group intermediate hurdler who was on a global prowl to improve his Olympic chances by copping the best of the banned.

In a quirky turn of events, I ran the 400 hurdles in college and have followed the event for decades. Never heard of Liam. A quick Google search revealed he had once run a ponzi scheme that cheated British investors out of $6 million, and performed on a U.K. TV talent show as part of the dance duo, called Faces of Disco. Now I have nothing against disco dancing, intermediate hurdlers, and I might have been one in my day. It’s just not the strongest resume from which to launch a sting operation targeting American sports heroes.

Never mind. It only got worse. For all their intent, Liam seemed to have a hard time finding doctors willing to sell him drugs. He started in the Bahamas with two doctors who flatly refused to prescribe him anything.

Al Jazeera soldiered on and flew to Vancouver to meet two 30-something wannabe, drug-peddler entrepreneurs/witch doctors. The so-called Naturopaths, whatever that is, presented Liam a PowerPoint business plan they claimed would allow them to sell banned drugs to NFL players. Comical and still not enough to raise any red flags for Al Jezeera.

These good doctors of PowerPoint, pointed Liam to an American pharmacist with the unlikely name of Charlie Sly (I can’t make this up). Charlie talked a real good game, but came off more akin to a   frat brother at Alpha, Kinda Obnoxious rather than a physiologist capable of delivering athletic greatness through a hypodermic needle. He knew no more about performance enhancing drugs than what the average muscle bound gym rat could learn reading muscle magazines. And Charlie himself seemed a bit paunchy–a curious condition for someone who claimed to have transformed Green Bay Packer Linebacker Mike Neal from a good college athlete into a combine killer who outperformed all other NFL 2009 recruits. Charlie claimed in the undercover tapes that he played football with Neal in high school. Didn’t happen.

Charlie’s most explosive charge was that he had once worked at an Indianapolis anti-aging clinic where he regularly shipped human growth hormone to Peyton Manning and his wife.

The only problem is that Charlie never produced any evidence. He had no Fed Ex slips, text messages, emails, or phone numbers. He didn’t play any voice mails, surface any notes or details about the alleged transactions. Just a punk talking shit. When Liam, the undercover disco-dancing, world-class hurdler fraudster tried to buy banned goods from Charlie all he could produce was a single vial of something. You would have expected better from someone who had claimed to manage the illegal drug regimens for dozens of big-name sports stars. And you would have expected Al Jazeera to have tested the vial’s contents and called Charlie’s crap right then and there. Just an oversight.

Unsurprisingly, Charlie has since recanted his secretly recorded bragging, saying it was all just a lie, big talk from a little guy. Even so, Al Jazeera has stood by its sloppy reporting. Unfortunately, the damage is already done. Not so much by the Al Jazeera broadcast– after all I am probably the only guy in America who watches the network, which regularly brings to light American poverty, drug use and excesses. But rather the real damage and disappointment comes from legitimate news outlets that continue to do follow up on coverage–suggesting that Peyton Manning won’t sue because it would require him to come clean. Or that his denial was somehow incomplete when he rightly asserted that his wife’s medical history is no one else’s business.

My hope is that Manning joins Ryan Howard, Ryan Zimmerman, and other pro athletes named in the report in suing the crap out of Charlie Sly. Then, they need to go after deep-pocketed, Arab-backed Al Jazeera and show them the real American way. Slander someone with innuendo, fail to back it with evidence and facts, and end up paying big time in the court of American opinion and in the halls of our justice system.

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