Roger Clemens Prepares for Steroids Testimony
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News. I'm Madeleine Brand.
To baseball and performance-enhancing drugs. While all-star pitcher Roger Clemens testifies on Capitol Hill tomorrow, the news today is that two other big name players will not appear. Clemens' teammate on the Yankees, Andy Pettite, and former major leaguer Chuck Knoblauch have been taken off the witness list. That leaves the spotlight solely on Roger Clemens and his former personal trainer, Brian McNamee.
Joining me now from Capitol Hill is NPR's Tom Goldman. And, Tom, first of all, tell us why there is this hearing tomorrow. How did it come about?
TOM GOLDMAN: This hearing is an offshoot of the Mitchell report on doping in baseball, which former Senator George Mitchell released last December after a lengthy investigation into the so-called steroids era in baseball. And the allegations against Roger Clemens were the most explosive part of the Mitchell report. His former personal trainer, Brian McNamee, alleged that he injected Roger Clemens with both human growth hormone and anabolic steroids numerous times. Both of those substances are banned by baseball.
BRAND: OK, and here's Roger Clemens denying those allegations on "60 Minutes" last month.
(Soundbite of TV show "60 Minutes")
Mr. ROGER CLEMENS (Pitcher): If he's putting that stuff in my body, if what he's saying, which is totally false, if he's doing that, I should have a third ear coming out of my forehead, I should be pulling tractors with my teeth.
BRAND: Roger Clemens denying allegations that his personal trainer, Brian McNamee, injected him with performance-enhancing drugs. Now I imagine that tomorrow there will be a lot of questions about what he said and what Brian McNamee said.
GOLDMAN: There will be a lot of questions. And I've heard this characterized now as a holy war. I've heard it characterized as a professional wrestling smackdown. Especially with, as you said, the other witnesses who were dropped from testimony tomorrow - Pettite, Knoblauch, and the steroid distributor, Kirk Radomski.
BRAND: Why were they dropped?
GOLDMAN: What the committee said in a statement was that Pettite and Knoblauch had already done what they needed to do, which was to give sworn depositions to the committee about what they knew. What certain reports are accounting is that Andy Pettite, who's a longtime friend of Roger Clemens and who also trained with Clemens with Brian McNamee, he was reportedly worried about what he would have to say in public, in the glare of national TV, and didn't want to take down his good, old friend. As I say, that's reported from unnamed sources at this point, but it's sounding like the committee didn't want to put him through that kind of thing.
BRAND: So is this going to come down, Tom, to a he said, he said between Clemens and McNamee? Or is there any corroborating evidence?
GOLDMAN: You know, they're really trying to get beyond that. And McNamee released what he says is the corroborating evidence, some evidence he turned over and then released photos of this when he came to Congress recently, of needles and syringes and bloody gauze that he says he saved from when he injected Roger Clemens with these banned drugs. He said he kept them in a FedEx box in his basement for about seven years, and now he has revealed those. Of course, this is going to require all kinds of forensics tests to find out if really this stuff was used on Roger Clemens.
They say that's kind of the smoking gun here. The Clemens people say this is the sign of an unbalanced man who would keep this stuff for that many years.
BRAND: Well, so if it is found that Clemens lied under oath, what could happen?
GOLDMAN: Well, you know, that's a really good question. Everyone talks about perjury. Perjury is a very, very difficult thing to prove. But short of that, the striking thing that's going to happen tomorrow is that both Brian McNamee and Roger Clemens will raise their right hands and swear to tell the truth and one of them will be outright lying. That is a very, very dramatic thing. What that leads to, whether that leads to prison time, no one knows. But it's certainly going to be a dramatic thing because their stories are diametrically opposed.
BRAND: NPR's Tom Goldman. Thank you.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome.