Al Jazeera PED story falling apart as key witness recants

You've probably heard about the story being shown on Al Jazeera America that supposedly documents high-profile pro athletes taking illegal substances, including Human Growth Hormone (HGH).  Big-name athletes like Denver quarterback and future hall-of-famer Peyton Manning, baseball slugger Ryan Zimmerman, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, and dozens of others have been implicated in taking Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs). 

Much of the information for the program came from a single source; Charlie Sly, a former intern unpaid intern at the Indianapolis-based Guyer Institute of Molecular Medicine, was recorded in conversations with a potential client, a British hurdler named Liam Collins.

Is any of this true?  Or was Sly just trying to sell his services using exaggerated and even false claims?

“I can give you something to use right now,” Sly told Liam Collins, reportedly pushing steroids on the British hurdler Al Jazeera had go undercover. “… There’s a bunch of football players who take this. And a bunch of baseball players who take it, too.”

Sly — if his recorded statements accurately convey his views, perhaps the least discreet advocate of performance-enhancing drugs ever — also opened up about his alleged clients.

On Dustin Keller, formerly of the Miami Dolphins: “We just used Delta-2 because it wasn’t detectable.”

On Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies: “He knows to take stuff twice a day. … I think [he saw] maybe more explosiveness [with D-2].”

On Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals: “I worked with him in the off-season … [He thinks D-2] does its job.”

On James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers: “He’s a f—ing beast. … Yeah, he takes [D-2].”

On Mike Neal of the Green Bay Packers: “Last year, I went out to Green Bay for like six weeks. I set Mike’s stuff up, but then, like, he started bringing everybody. I’m not even joking. More than half the team started to come by.” Other clients, according to Sly: Green Bay’s Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews.

And, most startlingly, Sly alleged football icon Peyton Manning, currently of the Denver Broncos, took HGH prescribed to his wife: “Another time that I worked with Peyton, him and his wife would come in after hours and get IVs and s—,” Sly said.

Everyone knows that many professional athletes break the rules and use these banned substances.  It's not a secret, nor is it necessarily newsworthy.

But Al Jazeera's case against specific athletes is beginning to crumble as Charlie Sly recants what he told Collins in private:

“It has come to my attention that the broadcaster Al Jazeera has somehow obtained recordings or communications of me making statements concerning a number of athletes, and that Al Jazeera plans to air a program about them,” Sly said in a denial posted to YouTube. “Any recordings of me were made without my knowledge or consent. It is my belief that an individual named Liam Collins secretly made those recordings. Liam is a recruited fraudster who is banned in his native United Kingdom from running any investment businesses. The statements on any recordings or communications that Al Jazeera plans to air are absolutely false and incorrect.”

He added: “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. Under no circumstances should any of those statements, recordings or communications be aired.”

Obviously, if those statements were true, Sly would go to jail for a very long time, so he has an interest in declaring the statements false.  But when weighed against the possibility that the allegations against the athletes are true, the Al Jazeera story is a rancid piece of journalism. 

In the case against former MLB star Barry Bonds, prosecutors not only had a key witness who testified to Bonds' guilt, but had notebooks, ledgers, and massive amounts of documentation showing that Bonds did, indeed, take PEDs.  (Bonds's conviction was eventually overturned on a technicality.)  Al Jazeera has none of this kind of proof – only the word of a traveling snake oil salesman who was recorded by a man referred to as a "swindler" by Sporting News:

According to This Is Money, Collins and his investment partner David Bone swindled consumers with a "phanton multi-million pound property scheme." As a result, the pair owed almost $5 million in American dollars to duped creditors and were banned from directing companies in the UK. The ruling rendered their 2012 bankruptcy filing moot. 

One woman, Sally George, offered This Is Money a damning testimonial to the two partners' actions:

"Mr. Collins assured us that the money was being used by a successful property enterprise for buying, renovating and renting out student properties and was guaranteed by 24 properties that they owned.

"We received interest payments for a year and a half after we invested but in November 2011 we were told that the company was insolvent and that te houses they owned were fully mortgaged and in negative equity so they could not repay us.

"So, we started a blog ... to see if anybody else out there was in the same boat. We heard from over 40 people, many of whom have invested 50,000-150,000 pounds, in some cases their life savings."

So the Al Jazeera report that surfaced Sunday represents just the latest in the Liam Collins saga — a story of a renaissance man, a hurdler-turned-dancer-turned rogue reporter.

PED use among older pro athletes is probably an epidemic.  HGH was the drug of choice for aging pitcher Roger Clemens.  The drug doesn't make you stronger or faster, but it allows the body to heal faster and recover faster – a boon for those who work out constantly. 

Al Jazeera's blockbuster allegations are not backed up by credible proof.  But as far as journalistic standards are concerned, what can you expect from a network owned by the Qatari royal family and run by jihadist sympathizers?

You've probably heard about the story being shown on Al Jazeera America that supposedly documents high-profile pro athletes taking illegal substances, including Human Growth Hormone (HGH).  Big-name athletes like Denver quarterback and future hall-of-famer Peyton Manning, baseball slugger Ryan Zimmerman, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, and dozens of others have been implicated in taking Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs). 

Much of the information for the program came from a single source; Charlie Sly, a former intern unpaid intern at the Indianapolis-based Guyer Institute of Molecular Medicine, was recorded in conversations with a potential client, a British hurdler named Liam Collins.

Is any of this true?  Or was Sly just trying to sell his services using exaggerated and even false claims?

“I can give you something to use right now,” Sly told Liam Collins, reportedly pushing steroids on the British hurdler Al Jazeera had go undercover. “… There’s a bunch of football players who take this. And a bunch of baseball players who take it, too.”

Sly — if his recorded statements accurately convey his views, perhaps the least discreet advocate of performance-enhancing drugs ever — also opened up about his alleged clients.

On Dustin Keller, formerly of the Miami Dolphins: “We just used Delta-2 because it wasn’t detectable.”

On Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies: “He knows to take stuff twice a day. … I think [he saw] maybe more explosiveness [with D-2].”

On Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals: “I worked with him in the off-season … [He thinks D-2] does its job.”

On James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers: “He’s a f—ing beast. … Yeah, he takes [D-2].”

On Mike Neal of the Green Bay Packers: “Last year, I went out to Green Bay for like six weeks. I set Mike’s stuff up, but then, like, he started bringing everybody. I’m not even joking. More than half the team started to come by.” Other clients, according to Sly: Green Bay’s Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews.

And, most startlingly, Sly alleged football icon Peyton Manning, currently of the Denver Broncos, took HGH prescribed to his wife: “Another time that I worked with Peyton, him and his wife would come in after hours and get IVs and s—,” Sly said.

Everyone knows that many professional athletes break the rules and use these banned substances.  It's not a secret, nor is it necessarily newsworthy.

But Al Jazeera's case against specific athletes is beginning to crumble as Charlie Sly recants what he told Collins in private:

“It has come to my attention that the broadcaster Al Jazeera has somehow obtained recordings or communications of me making statements concerning a number of athletes, and that Al Jazeera plans to air a program about them,” Sly said in a denial posted to YouTube. “Any recordings of me were made without my knowledge or consent. It is my belief that an individual named Liam Collins secretly made those recordings. Liam is a recruited fraudster who is banned in his native United Kingdom from running any investment businesses. The statements on any recordings or communications that Al Jazeera plans to air are absolutely false and incorrect.”

He added: “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. Under no circumstances should any of those statements, recordings or communications be aired.”

Obviously, if those statements were true, Sly would go to jail for a very long time, so he has an interest in declaring the statements false.  But when weighed against the possibility that the allegations against the athletes are true, the Al Jazeera story is a rancid piece of journalism. 

In the case against former MLB star Barry Bonds, prosecutors not only had a key witness who testified to Bonds' guilt, but had notebooks, ledgers, and massive amounts of documentation showing that Bonds did, indeed, take PEDs.  (Bonds's conviction was eventually overturned on a technicality.)  Al Jazeera has none of this kind of proof – only the word of a traveling snake oil salesman who was recorded by a man referred to as a "swindler" by Sporting News:

According to This Is Money, Collins and his investment partner David Bone swindled consumers with a "phanton multi-million pound property scheme." As a result, the pair owed almost $5 million in American dollars to duped creditors and were banned from directing companies in the UK. The ruling rendered their 2012 bankruptcy filing moot. 

One woman, Sally George, offered This Is Money a damning testimonial to the two partners' actions:

"Mr. Collins assured us that the money was being used by a successful property enterprise for buying, renovating and renting out student properties and was guaranteed by 24 properties that they owned.

"We received interest payments for a year and a half after we invested but in November 2011 we were told that the company was insolvent and that te houses they owned were fully mortgaged and in negative equity so they could not repay us.

"So, we started a blog ... to see if anybody else out there was in the same boat. We heard from over 40 people, many of whom have invested 50,000-150,000 pounds, in some cases their life savings."

So the Al Jazeera report that surfaced Sunday represents just the latest in the Liam Collins saga — a story of a renaissance man, a hurdler-turned-dancer-turned rogue reporter.

PED use among older pro athletes is probably an epidemic.  HGH was the drug of choice for aging pitcher Roger Clemens.  The drug doesn't make you stronger or faster, but it allows the body to heal faster and recover faster – a boon for those who work out constantly. 

Al Jazeera's blockbuster allegations are not backed up by credible proof.  But as far as journalistic standards are concerned, what can you expect from a network owned by the Qatari royal family and run by jihadist sympathizers?