WASHINGTON — Prosecutors said Wednesday that needles and cotton balls Roger Clemens’ former trainer says he used to inject the star pitcher tested positive for Clemens’ DNA and anabolic steroids — evidence the defense said was faked.
Assistant U.S. attorney Steven Durham revealed the results during opening arguments in Clemens’ trial on charges of lying to Congress about using performance-enhancing drugs.
Clemens’ attorney Rusty Hardin responded that he won’t dispute the needles contain Clemens’ DNA and steroids, but accused the trainer Brian McNamee of “mixing” it up.
“He manufactured this stuff,” Hardin told jurors. “Roger Clemens’ only crime was having the poor judgment to stay connected with Brian McNamee.”
Clemens has said the only things McNamee ever injected him with were the common local anesthetic lidocaine for his joints and vitamin B-12.
But Durham said neither substance was found when two California labs tested needles and cotton swabbed with Clemens’ blood stains.
“They found absolutely no B-12, and they found absolutely no lidocaine,” Durham said. “What they did find was anabolic steroids.”
Hardin objected when the prosecutor told jurors that Clemens’ former teammates, Andy Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch and Mike Stanton, will testify they used performance-enhancing drugs to recover from injuries and because the pressure to perform was so high in Major League Baseball.
Judge Reggie Walton has expressed concern in pretrial hearings that kind of testimony could lead jurors to consider Clemens guilty by association, and the judge told jurors to disregard Durham’s comments about other players.
Hardin told the jury that the government is “horribly wrong” in charging his client with perjury, false statements and obstruction of Congress, and that there was a “rush to judgment” that made it impossible for Clemens to be fairly heard up until now.
“It’s a fact of life that sometimes when people reach the mountain, there is an unwillingness to give them equal consideration when people come down on them,” Hardin said. “And that’s what happened with Roger.”
Hardin showed the jury an enlarged photo of the country with all the sites where federal agents investigated the case. He said it involved 103 law enforcement officers, five attorneys, 229 investigation reports and 72 investigation locations across the continental United States, Germany and Puerto Rico.
“They still didn’t find anything to connect him with steroids except Brian McNamee,” Hardin said.
Durham, however, said that about 45 witnesses, including several of Clemens’ former teammates, will help make the case that Clemens used anabolic steroids and human growth hormone. When Clemens denied the use under oath before a House panel in 2008, Durham said, “It was false and he knew it was false.”
The prosecutor said Clemens lied in order to protect his bid for election into the Hall of Fame.
Clemens continues to maintain he didn’t use drugs during a 24-season career that set several pitching records and earned him seven Cy Young awards.
Hardin tried to fight the perception that Clemens arrogantly insisted on testifying before Congress and thus put himself in this criminal position. He was not subpoenaed to testify and Hardin says it was “technically true that he voluntarily appeared” though under tremendous pressure.
“Roger Clemens, unless he was comatose, always knew the danger of him testifying,” Hardin said, pointing out that fellow Major League Baseball player Miguel Tejada was charged with misleading Congress for earlier testimony.
“Did he (Clemens) do it out of arrogance and wanting to go to the Hall of Fame?” Hardin said. “Really? To get into the Hall of Fame? Really? Is that what we’ve come to?”
Hardin showed a photo of the crush of photographers around the witness table as Clemens came into the House hearing room and called it a “scene.” Then he showed video of Clemens telling lawmakers that he thinks steroids are wrong and detrimental, but “no matter what we discuss here today, I’m never going to have my named restored.”
Hardin said hard work was responsible for Clemens’ longevity. He said Clemens was not a natural athlete and while his high school buddies were partying on Friday nights, he was working out.
He also said McNamee has lied repeatedly and is still lying.
Durham acknowledged that the jury will hear many “negative things” about McNamee, but said he will not ask them to rely on evidence from any one person.
“Everything Mr. McNamee says we intend to corroborate with independent evidence,” he said.
McNamee says he collected the evidence in 2001, when Clemens became the first pitcher ever to start a season 20-1, led the Yankees to the World Series and won his sixth Cy Young.
Durham said McNamee saved the material — a photo showed the Miller Lite can that McNamee kept it in for more than six years — because he was always skeptical he could trust his star client if steroid allegations ever surfaced and that he would be “thrown under the bus.” Durham said McNamee did not initially tell federal agents about it, but only did so after Clemens went on CBS’ “60 Minutes” and smeared his name.
“Then Mr. McNamee considered the bridge completely burned and he knew where he stood,” Durham said.