Phillies Howard Cleared in HGH Sensationalism Story


The Philadelphia Phillies slugging star 1st baseman was initially linked, along with a number of other high-profile professional athletes, to an HGH scandal.

However, Ryan Howard, along with all of those other athletes, has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the initial source. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of media sources have keyed their headlines to the initial report, either ignoring or minimizing the retraction.

It wasn’t true and I was trying to pull one over on Collins to see if he had any idea of what he was talking about.” ~ Charlie Sly

The story broke like wildfire across social media on Saturday, with headlines focusing on Denver Broncos superstar quarterback Peyton Manning. A documentary from the Al Jazeera news network is stating that the athletes received HGH, Human Growth Hormone, shipments from the Guyer Institute in Indianapolis.

Athletes listed in the documentary include not only Howard and Manning, but other high-profile sports figures such as Mike Tyson and Derek Jeter. The source for the information is a former employee at Guyer, a pharmacist named Charlie Sly.

Sly, however, has completely retracted his statements. As reported responsibly by ESPN, and Tweeted out by Darren Rovell, the only source that I found to use the retraction as the headline, Sly stated that he was working as an intern at Guyer when he came across British hurdler Liam Collins as an undercover reporter.

Sly decided to test the undercover reporter, who claimed to be trying to get into the supplementation business, by dropping the names of some higher profile athletes.

“When I realized Al Jazeera was using a secret taping and Collins as a so-called investigative reporter, I was baffled,” Sly said in the ESPN article. “I cannot believe that can happen. That’s why I recanted the story. It wasn’t true and I was trying to pull one over on Collins to see if he had any idea of what he was talking about. I was trying to determine whether this guy [Collins] was legitimate or just trying to steal some knowledge about the business.”

More from That Balls Outta Here

Howard’s agent, William Burck, released the following statement this morning on behalf of his two clients named in the story, both Howard and Washington Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman:

It’s inexcusable and irresponsible that Al Jazeera would provide a platform and broadcast outright lies about Mr. Howard and Mr. Zimmerman. The extraordinarily reckless claims made against our clients in this report are completely false and rely on a source who has already recanted his claims. We will go to court to hold Al Jazeera and other responsible parties accountable for smearing our clients’ good names.

The real story here to me is not that some professional athletes may or may not have ever used HGH. That would be ludicrous to deny as a general statement. Who knows what any particular athlete may or may not have ever done?

What is the real story, however, is how quickly and irresponsibly so many sources on social media, both mainstream and more local, specialized sources in say, the Philadelphia Phillies reporting community, jumped on the chance to link Howard to HGH. It was the classic reaction: sharks swarming to perceived blood in the water.

The story here is that there is no story here, at least not one involving ‘The Big Piece’ or any other athlete. The story here, at least this time, is the media itself, which seems to be the case more and more often.

If there ever is any hard evidence, beyond some questionable source such as Al Jazeera reporting something based on the word of one low-level employee of a company who subsequently retracts the story, then we will absolutely cover it here at TBOH. This is not that story. This one is on you, my fellow media sources.