02/13/08 6:00 PM EST
Clemens, McNamee face off in D.C.
Pitcher makes case to Congress in five-hour hearing
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Amid former trainer Brian McNamee's allegations that Clemens used performance-enhancing drugs as part of his training program for the latter stages of his celebrated career, Clemens appeared Wednesday on Capitol Hill to tell his tale before Congress and a national audience.
Wearing a navy suit, red tie and blue shirt, Clemens entered Room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building at 10:04 a.m. ET amid a flurry of shutter clicks, flanked by his attorneys and his wife, Debbie. McNamee entered a minute later from a different entrance wearing a gray suit, white shirt and silver tie, and did not appear to acknowledge Clemens.
Clemens and McNamee took their respective seats one chair apart for a hearing titled "The Mitchell Report: The Illegal Use of Steroids in Major League Baseball, Day 2." Once partners who shared a common interest -- namely, escalating Clemens' physical performance through grueling, military-style workouts -- their stories now could not be any more different.
Separated only by a space assigned to Charlie Scheeler, a member of former Sen. George Mitchell's law firm who helped investigate the Mitchell Report, Clemens and McNamee were prepared to tell their polar opposite stories. Ostensibly, only one can be telling the truth, and much was on the line.
As Rep. Tom Davis, the committee's ranking Republican, said, "Someone is lying in spectacular fashion about the ultimate question."
"I appreciate the opportunity to tell this Committee and the public -- under oath -- what I have been saying all along," Clemens said in a prepared statement.
McNamee's version, as expected, differed sharply.
"I have helped taint our national pastime," McNamee said. "When I told Sen. Mitchell that I injected Roger Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs, I told the truth. I told the truth about steroids and human growth hormone. I injected those drugs into the body of Roger Clemens at his direction.
"Unfortunately, Roger has denied this and has led a full-court attack on my credibility. And let me be clear, despite Roger Clemens' statements to the contrary, I never injected Roger Clemens -- or anyone else -- with Lidocaine or [Vitamin] B-12."
Amid the high ceilings and ornate dressings of the wood-paneled hearing room, the same room in which Mark McGwire famously and repeatedly insisted that he would not talk about the past, Clemens seemed eager to appear and did not shy away from speaking at length and in strong terms.
"This should show you that he believes strongly that he's telling the truth," said Rusty Hardin, one of Clemens' attorneys. "Everybody's said we're insane lawyers for allowing this. No sane man would subject himself to that unless he deeply believed he was telling the truth."
But the committee made it clear early on that it would not treat either party with particular care, admonishing both Clemens and McNamee while bristling at the media's belief that some representatives were simply "grandstanding."
McNamee's claim is that he injected Clemens with both steroids and human growth hormone on at least 20 occasions beginning in 1998. The story is partly corroborated by Clemens' former teammate, Andy Pettitte, who stated in a sworn affidavit that Clemens spoke in 1999 or 2000 with Pettitte about using HGH, though in 2005 in Kissimmee, Fla., Clemens recanted that story and said Pettitte was mistaken -- that Clemens had been speaking about his wife's use of HGH in 2003.
"Andy Pettitte is my friend," Clemens said during Wednesday's testimony. "He was my friend before this, he'll be my friend after this. ... I think Andy has misheard."
Pettitte also admitted to personally using HGH a second time in 2004, details that were previously unavailable. Pettitte said in a statement released by his attorney, Jay Reisinger, that he obtained the HGH from his father shortly before undergoing season-ending elbow surgery.
Clemens has insisted that McNamee only injected him with Lidocaine and vitamin B-12. Clemens testified that McNamee injected him with vitamin B-12 on three occasions with the Blue Jays and twice with the Yankees, saying that he has used it since 1998 and that, "I've always assumed it was a good thing to have."
McNamee replied, "The first time I heard Roger was taking B-12 was on '60 Minutes.'"
McNamee also testified that former Yankees teammate Mike Stanton noticed Clemens bleeding through his dress pants in 2001, at which point Clemens started carrying Band-Aids.
While McNamee denied public comment before Wednesday, leaving silently last week after providing more than seven hours of sworn deposition under oath, Clemens boisterously patrolled the Hill, meeting with as many representatives as possible. In his final Capitol Hill visit before Wednesday's proceedings, Clemens met with five more representatives, bringing his three-day lobbying total to 24.
The effort was just one of numerous tactics used by Clemens in refuting McNamee's charges that he used performance-enhancing substances in the latter stages of his career, allegations that consumed nearly nine pages of the Mitchell Report. Of the three players McNamee named, Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch being the others, Clemens was the only one to deny use, either publicly or under oath.
After the Mitchell Report's Dec. 13 release, Clemens also vehemently denied the charges in a televised interview with CBS' '60 Minutes' and held a sometimes-contentious press conference in Houston, before releasing an 18,000-word statistical analysis in an attempt to disprove that Clemens' late-career surge was prompted by PED use.
Yet Clemens admitted the damage is already done.
"No matter what we discuss here today, I am never going to have my name restored," Clemens said. "I know a lot of people want me to say I took steroids and be done with it. But I cannot in good conscience admit to doing something I did not do, even if it would be easier to do so."
Not everyone was swayed by Clemens' efforts.
"It's hard to believe you, sir. I hate to say that," said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). "You're one of my heroes, but it's hard to believe."
The hurler submitted a letter to the United States House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday that, signed by a medical specialist, said Clemens showed no signs of steroid use from May 1995 through August 2007. The letter, signed by Bert O'Malley, the chairman of the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at Baylor University, said Clemens was "devoid of suspicious indications" of steroid use during that time.
Yet that evidence may pale in comparison to the physical items surrendered by McNamee -- which included bloody gauze pads, used syringes and drug-laced vials purported to contain Clemens' DNA. McNamee withheld those items from federal investigators before finally acknowledging their existence in January.
"I was trying not to hurt the guy," McNamee said in his deposition. "There was a feeling of betrayal. I shouldn't have done it, but I didn't want to hurt him as bad as I could."
The revelations figure to have significant impact on a friendship between Clemens and Pettitte that was cultivated after the seven-time Cy Young Award winner was traded to the Yankees for the 1999 season. Both residents of the Houston area, Clemens and Pettitte trained together often during the offseason and Pettitte credited Clemens with helping him become more of a power pitcher.
When Clemens planned to retire after the 2003 World Series, he instead followed Pettitte to Houston as a free agent, saying at the time that he would not have signed with the Astros if Pettitte had not.
Clemens may have received some assistance from another former teammate on Tuesday. Jose Canseco said in a sworn affidavit that he has never seen Clemens "use, possess or ask for steroids or human growth hormone."
The affidavit, dated Jan. 22, is part of the evidence gathered by the committee holding Wednesday's hearing, and appears to disprove the Mitchell Report's contention that Clemens attended a party in Miami at Canseco's house on June 9, 1998, in which McNamee testified that Clemens asked Canseco about steroids.
McNamee disputed that claim, saying that he expressly recollected speaking with both Clemens and his wife at the party before leaving for a Blue Jays-Marlins game in Miami. Television and radio accounts of the game, however, discussed Clemens not being able to attend the party.
But Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) chastised Clemens and his attorneys for not immediately complying with a request issued Friday to provide the name of a nanny -- who was not named -- who later offered a statement in which she recalled Clemens' attendance at Canseco's house. The committee was unable to speak with the nanny until she had already met with Clemens at his Houston home last weekend and also spoke to a member of Clemens' investigative staff.
Waxman said the conduct "raises an appearance of impropriety" and said, "There's always going to be a question of if you were attempting to influence her testimony."
Clemens' attorneys, Hardin and Lanny Breuer, attempted to address chairman Waxman, but House rules do not permit them to be officially recognized.
"It was my idea to investigate what the witness knows, like any lawyer in the free world," Hardin said.
Rep. Davis, continuing a line of questioning, attempted to punch holes in McNamee's contention that Clemens developed an abscess on his buttocks in 1998 after a hurried injection at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. McNamee said the injection took place in late July or early August, but the Blue Jays were not in Florida at that time.
Each member of the Blue Jays' training staff testified that they recalled no abscess, though Clemens was sent for an MRI to check on a bruise or possible muscle tear. McNamee contended that after the alleged abscess, Clemens threw the remaining supply of Winstrol into McNamee's locker and said, "Get rid of this stuff."
"It was something I shouldn't have done," McNamee said of injecting pro ballplayers with illegal drugs. "I'm ashamed of it. That's why I'm here today."
Launching a full-out assault on McNamee's character, Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) asked McNamee to admit he had repeatedly lied to reporters in numerous media stories published relating to himself. Burton called the proceedings "a circus" and referred to the hearing as a "trial by media" on Clemens.
"This is really disgusting. You're here as a sworn witness. You're here to tell the truth," Burton said. "You're here under oath, and yet we have lie after lie after lie after lie, of where you've told this committee and the people of this country that Roger Clemens did things -- I don't know what to believe. I know one thing I don't believe and that's you."
Waxman said that he expects Wednesday's events to be the final time Congress investigates Major League Baseball in terms of identifying the veracity of the Mitchell Report.
"Our only job now is to look to the future, to make sure these drugs are not going to be used in professional sports, but also that they're not going to be used by kids," Waxman said.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.