FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2015, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison (92) sits on the sidelines during an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders in Pittsburgh. Harrison said in an affidavit sent to the NFL that he never met nor communicated with the source of a media report that linked him and other players to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Harrison has insisted that league officials have to provide "credible evidence" before he agrees to an interview. The NFL Players Association sent a letter on his behalf along with the signed affidavit to NFL executive Adolpho Birch on Monday, July 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

FILE – In this Nov. 8, 2015, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison (92) sits on the sidelines during an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

NEW YORK (AP) _ NFL stars James Harrison, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers can start the regular season without having the specter of a league investigation over whether they used performance-enhancing drugs hanging over their heads.

The NFL cleared all three players on Wednesday, saying there was “no credible evidence” the players were guilty of any of the claims made in a documentary by Al-Jazeera America in January.

An NFL statement said “the investigation involved witness interviews, a review of relevant records and other materials, electronic research, and laboratory analysis and review.”

The league threatened Harrison, Matthews, Peppers and free agent Mike Neal with indefinite suspensions if they did not meet with investigators.

All of them were mentioned in an Al-Jazeera television interview with Charlie Sly, who worked as an intern at an anti-aging clinic.

In the December report, Sly made claims of PED use by several athletes, including Harrison, Peyton Manning and the three others, but later recanted his claims.

NFLPA attorney Heather McPhee sent a letter to the NFL earlier this month of accusing it of trying to “bully and publicly shame” Harrison without offering evidence beyond a brief mention in the Al-Jazeera interview.

McPhee’s letter said Harrison would meet with the NFL at 5 p.m. Aug. 30 at the team’s facility, and would only discuss the portion of the Al-Jazeera interview that mentioned the 14-year veteran.

The five-time Pro Bowl linebacker initially insisted NFL commissioner Roger Goodell come to Harrison’s house to conduct the interview in person, though he later backed off.

“When it comes down to it I want to play,” Harrison said before a nearly hour-long meeting last week. “But it’s certain rules and things that they need to go through that they didn’t even go through just to even start an investigation. So, like I said before I don’t have a problem with doing an interview. Come to my house. Bring Roger with you.”

Harrison eventually had the meeting before the NFL’s deadline as did Matthews and Peppers.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

 

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