It was revealed Saturday night through the Huffington Post that the network Aljazeera America would be releasing a documentary about performance enhancing drug use in sports, which would include information linking high-profile athletes such as Peyton Manning, Ryan Howard, Ryan Zimmerman and Clay Matthews using an undercover informant who obtained the information from individuals as he attempt to delve into the ‘Dark Side’ of sports, which is conveniently the title of this documentary. The undercover athlete, Liam Collins, a British hurdler, spent six to eight months meeting people connected with all types of illegal drugs, and one such person who claimed to have administered the drugs to a list of high-profile athletes. The person in question was Charlie Sly, the only person to actually list the names of athletes in the documentary, which also includes him on camera claiming to have given the drugs to Manning and his wife, and then later a statement from Sly claiming that his statements were inaccurate.

The report has created a firestorm around all athletes involved, with Manning, Howard and Zimmerman all vehemently denying the claims, and threatening legal action against Aljazeera and Sly for making these comments with no basis. The report claims that all three used the drugs while rehabbing various injuries during 2011. That was the year Manning was recovering from a neck injury that almost ended his career, and he sought out various treatments approved by team doctors in an attempt to continue his career and get back on the field.

Sly, a former pharmacist intern, already recanted all statements made to Aljazeera late Saturday night, claiming that he was ‘testing’ Collins by dropping names and that none of them were actual clients. He also says he was not even employed by the Guyer Clinic, the anti-aging clinic he alleged gave Manning the drugs, when the shipments supposedly happened. Both the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts both stood behind Manning and were quick to call all claims false and absurd.

One thing is for sure- while some of Aljazeera’s information may have been accurate– they do have former major league catcher Taylor Teagarden on camera admitting his past PED use– the network did a terrible job of vetting sources for this story, and resorted to tabloid practices of allowing these allegations onto the documentary without properly researching their main source, Charlie Sly. A real network has a double source verification standard before allowing potentially slanderous accusations to make it onto a national stage, and Aljazeera obviously did not feel it necessary to do so. Which is why they are not a real news network, merely a well-publicized tabloid desperate for attention now that terrorists can posts videos on Youtube instead of needing their organization to deliver their message. It is truly pathetic that they were so quick to slander well know athletes while having no real basis to do so. It is highly possible that in the coming weeks, all athletes named in the report, from Manning, Howard and Zimmerman, to Clay Matthews, Mike Tyson, and James Harrison, all file defamation lawsuits against the tabloid network, as both Zimmerman and Howard’s attorney has already stated will happen.

TMZ actually made tabloids credible in the world of sports reporting after their coverage of the Ray Rice incident and the Donald Sterling mess from last year. That is why they now have their own sports division, which is widely considered a credible organization because they do believe in fact checking to a certain degree. It’s pretty obvious that Aljazeera was hoping to piggyback this success to further their own agenda, a goal that has now failed miserably. While there will always be a spectre of guilt over all athletes given the used of PED’s over the last 20 years, there is still the burden of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ in this country, and to prove that guilt there must be a level of proof needed before vilifying someone or declaring them guilty of anything. Aljazeera’s report does not accomplish that, and can mostly be taken as the ‘garbage’ that Peyton Manning described it.

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