Clemens takes lumps on Capitol Hill after testimony


Roger Clemens was told he didn't sound believable. Brian McNamee was branded a "drug dealer" and reminded of past lies.

With Congress apparently split over which man's version of events is true, it could be up to the Justice Department to decide.

Clemens and McNamee, the accused and his accuser, traded contradictory stories under oath Wednesday before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about whether the star pitcher was injected with steroids and human growth hormone by his former personal trainer.

And while many baseball fans are turning their attention to Florida and Arizona for the first official workouts of spring training today &

ready for cries of "Play ball!" instead of talk about foul play &

there is sure to be more discussion of Clemens and McNamee in the nation's capital.

"It's just sad," Clemens' former manager with the New York Yankees, Joe Torre, said in Vero Beach, Fla., on the eve of his first camp with the Los Angeles Dodgers. "I'd just like to see baseball move on right now."

After the 400-page Mitchell Report, which contained the first public airing of McNamee's allegations about Clemens, and a 41/2-hour House hearing about their he-said, he-said, little is settled.

"They don't disagree on a phone call or one meeting," committee chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said during the hearing. "If Mr. McNamee is lying, he has acted inexcusably, and he has made Mr. Clemens an innocent victim. If Mr. Clemens isn't telling the truth, then he is acting shamefully and has smeared Mr. McNamee. I don't think there is anything in between."

Yet, afterward, Waxman told reporters: "I haven't reached any conclusions at this point" as to whether a criminal investigation is warranted.

Several congressmen said a referral from the committee isn't needed to trigger a Justice Department inquiry if prosecutors believe either man made false statements.

Sitting in the second row Wednesday was IRS Special Agent Jeff Novitzky, a key member of the team prosecuting Barry Bonds. Bonds, baseball's home run king, was indicted in November on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice stemming from his 2003 testimony to a grand jury in which he denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.

It was Novitzky who last month collected used needles and bloody gauze pads that McNamee's camp turned over for testing. The trainer's lawyers call the items evidence that contains performance-enhancing drugs and Clemens' DNA. Clemens' side call the items "manufactured."

Either way, the Justice Department has them.

McNamee told baseball investigator George Mitchell he injected Clemens 16 to 21 times with performance-enhancing drugs from 1998 to 2001. On Wednesday, McNamee said those numbers are low.

Clemens' vigorous denials about using steroids or HGH drew Congress' attention, and he repeated them Wednesday.

His reputation and Hall of Fame candidacy potentially at stake &

not to mention the possibility of criminal charges, should he lie &

Clemens said: "I have never taken steroids or HGH. No matter what we discuss here today, I am never going to have my name restored."

Sticking out his famous right arm &

the one that earned 354 major league wins, seven Cy Young Awards, $160 million &

Clemens pointed in the direction of McNamee, sitting only a few feet away.

Without looking at a man he once considered a friend, Clemens told the panel, "I have strong disagreements with what this man says about me."

Just like their stories, Clemens' Texas drawl was in strong contrast to the clipped cadences of McNamee, a former New York police officer.

"I told the investigators I injected three people &

two of whom I know confirmed my account," McNamee said. "The third is sitting at this table."

Former Clemens teammates Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch both acknowledged that McNamee was correct when he said they used performance enhancers. Both were excused from testifying, but Pettitte gave the committee a sworn affidavit in which he told the committee Clemens said nearly 10 years ago that he used HGH.

Waxman read from affidavits by Pettitte and his wife, Laura, supporting the accusations. Clemens said Pettitte "misremembers" things.

There were other revelations. Clemens' wife, Debbie, sat in the front row behind him and listened as Waxman implicated her in HGH use, citing statements by Pettitte. Clemens testified his wife took HGH once, although according to the transcript of last week's sworn deposition, Clemens told committee lawyers he didn't know of family members taking HGH.

Waxman also said Clemens might have tried to influence statements to the committee by the pitcher's former nanny.

Clemens and McNamee, by all accounts once good friends, rarely glanced at one another. When Clemens did turn to his right, it was with the Rocket's mound glare. Seated between them was the day's third witness, Charles Scheeler, a lawyer who helped compile the report on drug use in baseball headed by former Senate majority leader George Mitchell.

"Someone is lying in spectacular fashion," said Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, the committee's ranking Republican.

Eventually, the committee split largely along party lines, with the Democrats reserving their most pointed queries for Clemens, and the Republicans giving McNamee a rougher time.

"It's hard to believe you, sir," Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., told Clemens. "I hate to say that. You're one of my heroes. But it's hard to believe."

Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., told McNamee: "You're here under oath, and yet we have lie after lie after lie after lie."

Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., repeatedly called McNamee a "drug dealer."

One of McNamee's lawyers, Earl Ward, called it a "public flogging."

The Mitchell Report itself was prompted by another hearing on steroids held by the same committee in the same wood-paneled room, on March 17, 2005. That is best remembered for having tarnished the reputations of Mark McGwire &

who infamously repeated, "I'm not here to talk about the past" &

and Rafael Palmeiro &

who wagged his finger and declared he never had used steroids, then failed a drug test months later.

In a reference to that day, Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., cautioned Clemens and McNamee: "It's better not to talk about the past than to lie about the past."

At times, Clemens struggled to find the right words as he was pressed by lawmakers. Toward the end, he raised his voice to interrupt Waxman's closing remarks. The chairman pounded his gavel and said, "Excuse me, but this is not your time to argue with me."

When it was over, Clemens shook hands with Davis, then left through a back door.

Clemens later told reporters: "I'm very thankful and very grateful for this day to come. I'm glad for the opportunity finally. And, you know, I hope I get &

and I know I will have &

the opportunity to come here to Washington again under different terms."


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