The NFL will be conducting interviews with three players who were tied to performance-enhancing drugs by an Al Jazeera America report from last December.
Per Tom Pelissero of USA Today, NFL senior vice president of labor policy and league affairs Adolpho Birch said in a letter Friday to NFL counsel Heather McPhee that the league will interview Green Bay Packers linebackers Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison when their teams open training camp at the end of July.
Pelissero noted the letter said that former Packers linebacker Mike Neal, who is currently a free agent, will be interviewed “on or before July 22.” He added that an inquiry into Peyton Manning “has been progressing,” but the former NFL MVP is no longer in the union as a retired player.
Per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, all four players “are and have been willing to submit to interviews” with the main delay being related to the league and players union being unable to “reach an agreement on the scope of the interviews and other factors relevant to the process.”
The NFL has been planning to speak with the players named in the Al Jazeera America report for some time. League spokesman Joe Lockhart told NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport in May (via Austin Knoblauch of NFL.com): “We have been working with U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and Major League Baseball since these allegations were raised. Working with the NFL Players Association, we expect to talk directly to the players sometime next month.”
The allegations of PED use were made by Charlie Sly, a former intern at an anti-aging clinic, and they were shown in a documentary that aired on Al Jazeera America with athletes from the NFL and Major League Baseball named.
Sly recanted his allegations against the athletes by calling himself an unreliable narrator, per Justin Wm. Moyer of the Washington Post.
All of the athletes who were named in the documentary have denied the allegations. Manning told ESPN’s Lisa Salters he was “disgusted” by the accusations and said the notion he would take anything illegal to get back on the field is “a freaking joke.”
Matthews told reporters the allegations are “100 percent falsified, fabricated information” and that he’s never talked with or even met Sly.
The NFL’s letter states that “in fairness to all, including the players involved, we must move forward with the interviews” and they “will be advised of the specific scheduling details by separate correspondence on which the NFLPA will be copied, and of course an NFLPA representative may attend each interview should the player so request.”
Packers players report at training camp July 25. Steelers players are due to report to camp July 28.
Read more NFL news on BleacherReport.com
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