Clemens, Trainer Stick to Conflicting Stories

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It's unclear if perjury charges will result from conflicting congressional testimony by pitcher Roger Clemens and his former trainer. Brian McNamee said he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone; Clemens said it never happened.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

And on this Valentine's Day there's no love loss between baseball star Roger Clemens and his former personal trainer Brian McNamee. They've been locked in a bitter public dispute for weeks over performance-enhancing drugs, and they went to Congress yesterday. According to the Mitchell Report on doping in baseball McNamee said that he injected Clemens with such drugs. Clemens says it never happened, and they stuck to their stories on Capitol Hill.

NPR's Tom Goldman reports that it was someone not at the hearing who made the biggest news.

TOM GOLDMAN: They swore to tell the truth but how could they both do that if they were telling such different stories? Brian McNamee:

Mr. BRIAN MCNAMEE (Roger Clemens' Former Personal Trainer): I told the truth about steroids and human growth hormone. I injected those drugs into the body of Roger Clemens at his direction.

GOLDMAN: Roger Clemens:

Mr. ROGER CLEMENS (Pitcher): I've been accused of something I'm not guilty of. How do you prove a negative? No matter what we discuss here today, I'm never going to have my name restored but I've got to try and set the record straight.

GOLDMAN: Ironically an old friend didn't help his case and in fact may have hurt it. Pitcher Andy Pettite and Clemens have been pals for a long time. They used to train together with Brian McNamee. In the Mitchell Report McNamee said he injected Pettite with human growth hormone, now banned in baseball, and Pettite has acknowledged it.

Pettite was scheduled to testify at yesterday's hearing but Monday night he was dropped from the witness list. Still, the sworn testimony he gave to House committee members beforehand helped tip the balance for some in the I-gave-you-drugs-no-you-didn't dispute between McNamee and Clemens.

Democrat Elijah Cummings is a representative from Maryland.

Representative ELIJAH CUMMINGS (Democrat, Maryland): If I walk in here and it was even Steven between you and Mr. McNamee I must tell you the person that I believe most is Mr. Pettite.

GOLDMAN: In his testimony Pettite said he had a conversation with Clemens in 1999 or 2000 in which Clemens said he never admitted using HGH and said he must have been talking about his wife in that 1999/2000 conversation. But Debbie Clemens reportedly didn't use HGH until 2003. Yesterday Roger Clemens told Cummings he considers Andy Pettite an honest man of great character who also was wrong.

Mr. CLEMENS: I believe Andy has misheard, Mr. Congressman, on his comments about myself using HGH, which never happened.

Rep. CUMMINGS: It's hard to believe you, sir. You were one of my heroes but it's hard to believe you.

GOLDMAN: Clemens also appeared to change stories on the issue of whether he ever talked to Brian McNamee about human growth hormone. In a sworn deposition before the hearing Clemens said he never did. But then later he acknowledged he did have some conversations with McNamee.

At the other end of the witness table, Brian McNamee didn't change stories but in fact acknowledged he lied and withheld information to federal investigators often, as a way he said, to protect his baseball drug clients. Indiana Republican Dan Burton wasn't swayed by McNamee's protective instincts.

Representative DAN BURTON (Republican, Indiana): You're here to tell the truth. You're here under oath, and yet we have lie after lie after lie after lie. I don't know what to believe. I know one thing I don't believe that's you.

GOLDMAN: On it went for four-and-a-half hours. Clemens's attorneys refused to say who won or loss. Committee Chairman Henry Waxman praised the hearing as a robust discussion. But one couple at the hearing, Frank and Brenda Morerro(ph), reacted to the testimony in a more visceral way.

Mr. FRANK MORERRO (Attended Hearing): I get angry, I get emotional. I want to cry. It's an emotional thing for us because we lost our son. We've paid a tremendous price.

GOLDMAN: Efrain Morrero killed himself three-and-a-half years ago at the age of 19. He was severely depressed after trying to quit the steroids he had started using, he told his dad Frank, because the top athletes did. Frank Morrero knows a lot of people will react to yesterday's hearing with a shrug and an attitude of who cares about a rich and famous athlete fighting for his image, and it bothers him.

Mr. MORRERO: And we want America not to forget the human toll and the human emotion and the suffering that we are going through because of these steroids.

GOLDMAN: Morrero will keep traveling the country and speaking to people about the need to educate kids and families. The House committee will plow through yesterday's testimony to see if two different stories should lead to one investigation of possible perjury.

Tom Goldman, NPR News, Washington.

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