Lawyers: McNamee has physical evidence linking Clemens to steroids
By TERI THOMPSON, CHRISTIAN RED, NATHANIEL VINTON and MICHAEL O'KEEFFE
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITERS
Wednesday, February 6th 2008, 3:32 PM
Brian McNamee has turned over physical evidence to federal investigators that he believes will show Roger Clemens used performance-enhancing drugs, according to McNamee's lawyers.
"This is evidence the government has that we believe will corroborate Brian in every significant way," said McNamee lawyer Earl Ward.
McNamee's attorneys would not discuss the details of the evidence, but according to a source close to the former Yankee strength and conditioning coach, McNamee gave the Justice Department's BALCO investigators vials with traces of steroids and growth hormone, as well as blood-stained syringes and gauze pads that may contain the Rocket's DNA.
Justice Department officials have sent the evidence to a lab for testing, and if the materials do indeed contain traces of drugs and blood, prosecutors may attempt to get a court order for a DNA sample from Clemens.
McNamee plans to discuss the evidence with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform tomorrow, when he is interviewed by the panel's attorneys in preparation for next Wednesday's congressional hearing on the challenges Clemens has raised about the Mitchell Report.
"We will provide Congress with corroborative physical evidence that takes this case out of the he-said, she-said purview," said another McNamee lawyer, Richard Emery. "From our point of view, this corroborates that Brian told the truth from Day One and Clemens has not."
Clemens' attorneys Rusty Hardin and Lanny Breuer did not return calls for comment.
The explosive evidence could pose big problems for the seven-time Cy Young Award winner, who emerged from a five-hour deposition with committee investigators yesterday and told reporters that he had testified under oath that he had never used illict drugs.
Clemens has repeatedly denied using performance-enhancing drugs ever since the Mitchell Report was released on Dec. 13, but if he did indeed reiterate his denials under oath, the stakes become significantly higher. Clemens could be charged under a federal law that penalizes anyone who knowingly and willfully lies to Congress. The law, 18 U.S.C. 1001, allows prison terms up to a five-year in length.
"We're not going to make any judgments until we see all the evidence," said Keith Ausbrook, the committee's Republican general counsel. "We're going to have to wait to see what Mr. McNamee tells us."
Other witnesses may also come forward with information that corroborates McNamee's account in the Mitchell Report, the source said. McNamee told former Sen. George Mitchell he injected Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs at least 16 times in 1998, 2000 and 2001.
McNamee kept syringes, gauze pads and vials from the 2000 and 2001 seasons because he feared Clemens would deny illicit drug use if the matter was ever investigated, the source added.
McNamee has not talked about the evidence in the past, the source said, because he did not want to implicate Clemens in Major League Baseball's ongoing steroid scandal. But Clemens has left McNamee no choice: The Rocket filed a defamation lawsuit naming McNamee as a defendant shortly after the Mitchell Report's release, and Clemens' legal and public relations team have spent weeks attacking the Breezy Point resident's credibility.
Although Clemens has repeatedly denied steroid use, he has said McNamee, his longtime personal trainer and the Yankees assistant strength and conditioning coach in 2000 and 2001, did give him B-12 and lidocaine injections. But the source said the government's lab tests could prove the vials and syringes contained illict drugs, not a vitamin or a pain killer.
The House Oversight Committee has already shown it will not tolerate ballplayers who lie to lawmakers. The committee's chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada lied on Aug. 26, 2005, when Tejada told congressional aides investigating then-Baltimore Orioles teammate Rafael Palmeiro them that he didn't use steroids and didn't know other players who did.
Tejada is now the focus of an FBI investigation, likely to center on the transcribed interview in question, and the contradictory evidence laid out in the Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs and baseball, which includes photographed reproductions of a signed check Tejada wrote in 2003 to his then-teammate Adam Piatt, who told Mitchell the check was for drugs.
McNamee will be the fifth person interviewed by congressional investigators preparing for next week's hearing.
One key witness against Clemens could be his longtime friend and teammate Pettitte, who met with the same congressional investigators for 2 1/2 hours on Monday.
Committee staff members and Pettitte's lawyers declined to talk about his interview, which was expected to focus on Pettitte's admission that he used human growth hormone as noted in the Mitchell Report. But Pettitte's testimony could also be devastating for Clemens. The pitchers have been famously close friends in their years together with the Yankees and Houston Astros. Both used McNamee as a trainer.
Ward, moreover, told the Daily News last week that he expected Pettitte to tell investigators about a conversation he had with Clemens and McNamee about performance-enhancing drugs during a workout session at Clemens' Houston-area home before the 2002 season.
Former Met clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski, meanwhile, meets with the House Oversight Committee investigators on Tuesday, the same day the panel will hold a hearing entitled "Myths and Facts About Human Growth Hormone, B-12 and Other Substances." That hearing is being held prior to the Mitchell Report hearing to help lawmakers understand the "true effects" of the substances, according to a statement from the committee.