Clemens Needle Mixed With Others in Can, McNamee Says

Former Strength Coach Brian McNamee
Brian McNamee, former major league baseball pitcher Roger Clemens' former strength coach, leaves after testifying in the perjury and obstruction trial of Clemens on May 14, 2012 in Washington, D.C. Photographer: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Brian McNamee, the government’s only eyewitness to Roger Clemens’s alleged steroid use, testified that some of the medical waste he preserved from an injection he gave the ex-pitcher was mixed with needles used on other baseball players.

McNamee made the admission yesterday under cross-examination at Clemens’s perjury trial in Washington. McNamee, who was once the former New York Yankee’s personal trainer, said he had kept the material in a beer can before turning it over to the government. Defense attorney Rusty Hardin displayed a picture of the medical waste and asked the witness where each item came from.

“Did you put anything in the beer can not used on Mr. Clemens?” Hardin asked.

“Yes,” McNamee said. “Definitely growth hormone and the diabetic needle.”

“Why is that in the beer can?” Hardin asked.

“It might have been left in my room and it was just thrown in there,” McNamee said.

McNamee was also asked about what he told prosecutors who wanted to know how his own blood wound up on gauze McNamee claimed was used to clean up a shot given to Clemens.

“Did you state that it was possible you used the same gauze you used on Clemens’s rear end to wipe blood off of your hand after cutting yourself on a bottle?” Hardin asked.

“Yes, that’s something I could have said,” McNamee answered.

False Statements

Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is charged with one count of obstructing a congressional investigation, three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury stemming from his testimony to a House panel investigating the use of steroids in Major League Baseball. He faces as long as 21 months in prison if convicted.

McNamee, on the witness stand since May 14, has testified that he gave Clemens injections of steroids and human growth hormone, or HGH, during the 1998, 2000 and 2001 baseball seasons while both men worked for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Yankees.

Former Senator George Mitchell, acting as a special investigator for Major League Baseball, released a report on steroid use among professional ballplayers on Dec. 13, 2007. Mitchell concluded Clemens used drugs on at least 16 occasions from 1998 to 2001. Clemens has denied having used drugs.

The government’s case includes a needle and cotton with Clemens’s DNA that tested positive for anabolic steroids, prosecutors said.

Preserved Needles

That material came from McNamee, who said he saved needles, gauze and vials from one of the injections in 2001. He told jurors he kept some of the items in a Miller Lite beer can that he took from the recycling bin in Clemens’s apartment.

McNamee said he put the materials in a briefcase-type bag and brought it home and showed it to his wife. After that, he put the can in a FedEx box marked “Clem” and placed it in a locked closet, he said.

Two years later, McNamee said he added a bag of steroids and a bottle of unidentified pills that he said Clemens gave him at the end of the 2003 baseball season. Those materials were later transferred to a different FedEx box.

McNamee said he saved the material because his wife told him repeatedly that he would be the one to take the fall if something went wrong.

McNamee said yesterday that the material from other players probably came from the bag he had brought home from Clemens’s house. He said it was medical waste from other players who had “shot up” in his hotel room while on the road. At least one needle and two vials that another ballplayer used for an HGH shot went into the Miller Lite can, he said.

Competitive Concerns

Clemens, 49, who pitched for the Yankees, Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros during a 24-year career, used the anabolic steroids and HGH to remain competitive as he aged, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Durham said in his opening statement last month.

Hardin’s attack on McNamee’s credibility yesterday included accusations of alcohol abuse and engaging in a fraudulent scheme to obtain diet pills. Hardin also got McNamee to admit to the jury that he manipulated a dead-on-arrival scene while he was a New York City police officer.

Hardin finished his cross-examination of McNamee this afternoon, leaving prosecutors about 20 minutes to begin their re-direct before the trial broke for the weekend.

Time Limits

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton admonished both sides for taking too long in their examination of witnesses and said after McNamee each side would be limited to about an hour and a half per witness. Walton said yesterday he expected the trial to go into the second week of June.

Based on Hardin’s questioning, prosecutors were able to ask their witness about Jose Canseco, a former baseball player who admitted to using steroids.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Butler asked McNamee to explain how in June 1998 McNamee came to believe that when Clemens asked him for “a booty shot” he meant an injection of steroids.

“It was conversation, innuendo and who he was keeping company with,” McNamee said.

He said he overheard a conversation about steroids between Clemens and Canseco, who both played for the Blue Jays at the time. A few days later, McNamee said, Canseco, during a road trip to Florida, gave him steroids and four syringes to take back to Toronto for Clemens.

Other Ballplayers

Prosecutors have asked Walton for permission to ask McNamee about other ballplayers he has given drugs to, namely Clemens’s former Yankee teammates Andy Pettitte, Mike Stanton and Chuck Knoblauch.

The government argues that Hardin’s questioning of McNamee’s motives “opened the door” to evidence showing how McNamee’s cooperation led to other ballplayers admitting drug use. Walton said he would consider the request.

Also yesterday, U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, California Republican, asked Walton to block two subpoenas from Clemens received this month seeking his testimony and documents from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Issa is the now chairman of the committee, whose leaders in 2008 referred Clemens to prosecutors for perjury.

Clemens wants Issa to testify about comments he made in 2008 regarding the committee’s hearing.

The second subpoena seeks documents related to the “motivation” behind the committee probe, whether the investigation was consistent with the rules of the House and legislation that was considered in connection with the investigation, according to the filing.

Walton threw out a similar subpoena for information last year, concluding that the request violated the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause.

The case is U.S. v. Clemens, 1:10-cr-00223, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

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