Canseco claims no knowledge of Clemens using steroids

Updated: February 13, 2008, 1:40 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

WASHINGTON -- Former major leaguer Jose Canseco told Congress in a sworn affidavit that he has never seen Roger Clemens "use, possess or ask for steroids or human growth hormone."

The affidavit, dated Jan. 22, was obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday. It is part of the evidence gathered by the congressional committee looking at drugs in baseball.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government's hearing Wednesday will focus on Clemens' denials of his former personal trainer's allegations in the Mitchell report. The trainer, Brian McNamee, told federal prosecutors and then-baseball investigator George Mitchell that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone at least 16 times in 1998, 2000 and 2001.

"I have never had a conversation with Clemens in which he expressed any interest in using steroids or human growth hormone," Canseco said in the affidavit. "Clemens has never asked me to give him steroids or human growth hormone, and I have never seen Clemens use, possess or ask for steroids or human growth hormone."

Canseco continued: "I have played on three teams with Roger Clemens and I have no reason to believe that he has ever used steroids, human growth hormone, or any other performance enhancing drugs."

According to McNamee, Clemens first raised the subject of steroids not long after McNamee saw Canseco and Clemens at a June 1998 party. At the time, Canseco and Clemens were teammates on the Toronto Blue Jays, and McNamee was working for the team. Canseco says in his affidavit Clemens was not at that party.

Congressional Hearing

Charlie Scheeler will be the man in the middle on Wednesday.

When the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee begins its hearing into the Mitchell report at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Scheeler, a member of former Senate majority leader George Mitchell's team that put together the Mitchell report, will be seated in the center of the three-person panel testifying about performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, according to a staffer who works for Committee member Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT).

Roger Clemens will be on one side of Scheeler; Brian McNamee will be on the other.

Members of the House majority, the Democrats, will begin the questioning for 15 minutes, followed by the minority (Republican) members for another 15 minutes. As the hearing progresses, the time periods allotted to each side will be reduced first to 10 minutes, and eventually to five minutes, the staff member said.

-- Mike Fish, ESPN.com

The first mention of Clemens' name in the Mitchell report is on page 167. On the very next page comes McNamee's account of "a lunch party that Canseco hosted at his home in Miami."

"McNamee stated that, during this luncheon, he observed Clemens, Canseco, and another person he did not know meeting inside Canseco's house, although McNamee did not personally attend that meeting," the Mitchell report says.

In his affidavit, Canseco said, "I specifically recall that Clemens did not come to the bar-b-que. I remember this because I was disappointed that he did not attend. I later learned that he had a golfing commitment that day and could not attend the party."

Canseco's book about steroids in baseball, "Juiced," drew Congress' attention in 2005, leading to the hearing then with Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro. He and Clemens were teammates on the 1996 Boston Red Sox and 2000 New York Yankees, in addition to the '98 Blue Jays.

In his affidavit, the existence of which was first reported by the AP on Saturday, Canseco also disputes other statements of McNamee's in the Mitchell report. The affidavit also says "neither Senator Mitchell nor anyone working with him" contacted Canseco to attempt to corroborate things McNamee said.

Two of McNamee's lawyers did not immediately return calls for comment Tuesday. But on Saturday, McNamee lawyer Earl Ward said he did not think Canseco's affidavit would be meaningful.

Reached Tuesday by the AP, Canseco said: "I've been told not to say anything."

His lawyer said Canseco would not attend Wednesday's hearing. Clemens and McNamee are the two main witnesses. Three others originally invited to testify were excused Monday, including Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, who is a former teammate and workout partner of Clemens.

McNamee also told Mitchell that Pettitte used HGH. Two days after the Mitchell report was released, Pettitte acknowledged he did try HGH.

On Wednesday, one thing seems certain: Clemens will be no Mark McGwire.

"He IS here to talk about the past," Clemens' lead lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said Tuesday as he accompanied the seven-time Cy Young Award winner through the hallways of Capitol Hill office buildings.

Clemens was making the rounds one last time, wearing a gray pinstriped suit and squeezing face-to-face meetings into the busy schedules of the members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He met with five congressmen over a four-hour span Tuesday, on top of the 19 he saw on Thursday and Friday.

"I enjoyed talking with him," said Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif., who said the discussion included baseball stories and personal accounts about the Sept. 11 attacks. "It's always good to meet the person who is in the spotlight. ... I told him, 'This is not a trial.'"

But it might very well feel like one when Clemens and McNamee sit at the witness table, and -- under oath -- offer what will surely be contradictory versions as to whether Clemens has used steroids and human growth hormone during his storied career.

"I couldn't tell you who's telling the truth," Watson said.

The anticipation of the hearing rivals -- if not surpasses -- that of the hubbub before March 17, 2005, when McGwire, Sosa and Palmeiro testified before the same committee in the same wood-paneled House hearing room. McGwire avoided answering questions about steroid use that day by repeatedly saying "I'm not here to talk about the past" -- and his reputation has shown no signs of recovery.

"I think Roger's fully prepared to testify fully and truthfully," Hardin said. "And one thing we were trying to make clear in all these meetings was that it wasn't going to be a repeat of 2005. He wasn't going to sort of parse his words and be careful about what he said. He'd answer any question they had."

In comparison to Clemens' personal meetings with lawmakers, McNamee has kept a low profile in the buildup to the hearing. He gave a closed-door deposition under oath last week, two days after Clemens did, and has been waiting until the hearing itself to retell his story.

It's a story that first publicly surfaced in Mitchell's report on drugs in baseball in December. McNamee said in the report that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone at least 16 times in 1998, 2000 and 2001. Clemens vigorously denied the claims in an aggressive media blitz that included an appearance on "60 Minutes."

Clemens didn't have much to say Tuesday as he walked the hallways from appointment to appointment. He said he was getting a chance to meet some "interesting people," and he waved appreciatively when two bystanders yelled: "We love you, Rocket!"

In a late addition to its case, Clemens' camp planned to submit to the committee on Wednesday a letter from a Baylor College of Medicine professor who examined medical records supplied by Hardin's office. The physician, Dr. Bert O'Malley, wrote that the records, which covered Clemens' time with four baseball clubs from April 1995 to August 2007, were "devoid of suspicious indications" of steroid use, such as high blood pressure or cholesterol, increased recovery time from injuries, increased muscle size, mood swings and numerous other symptoms.

O'Malley also said he saw no record of abscesses, which contradicts a claim by McNamee that Clemens had an abscess on his buttocks while with the Yankees as the result of an injection. Clemens' camp told ESPN's T.J. Quinn that O'Malley was asked to review the records, but he was not paid.

The only scheduled witness besides Clemens and McNamee is Charles Scheeler, a lawyer who helped produce the Mitchell report.

But committee staff already had taken depositions from Pettitte, who has acknowledged he did try HGH, and former Yankee and Twins player Chuck Knoblauch.

Two of McNamee's lawyers did not immediately return calls for comment on Canseco's affidavit on Tuesday. But on Saturday, Ward said he did not think Canseco's affidavit would be meaningful.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report. T.J. Quinn, formerly of the New York Daily News, is a reporter for ESPN.