Commentary

Committee memo specifies Clemens' 'implausible' testimony

Originally Published: February 27, 2008
By Mark Fainaru-Wada | ESPN

An 18-page memorandum compiled by congressional staff members provides a damning analysis of statements given under oath by Roger Clemens -- underscoring a perjury case that could be looming for the seven-time Cy Young winner.

The document, released Wednesday by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, lists "seven sets of assertions" Clemens made during his Feb. 5 deposition and Feb. 13 testimony that are "implausible" or "appear to be contradicted by other evidence before the Committee." (Read the complete memorandum here.)

The memo is described as an analysis created by majority staffers at the request of Waxman, whose committee has played a central role in investigating performance-enhancing drug use by professional and Olympic athletes. Earlier this month, the committee took depositions and heard testimony from, among others, Clemens and his former personal trainer Brian McNamee, who described the pitcher's extensive use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Clemens has vehemently and repeatedly denied ever taking steroids or human growth hormone, but those denials -- and others -- are highly suspect, according to the congressional analysis.

The document, at various points, describes Clemens' statements as "not truthful," "implausible," "contradicted" and called "into question." In one section, the memo suggests there is "evidence that Mr. Clemens affirmatively sought to mislead the Committee."

The analysis was made public the same day Waxman and ranking member Tom Davis, R-Va., sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey requesting the Justice Department investigate whether Clemens committed perjury before the committee. The referral is the second in less than two months from Waxman's committee, which requested Mukasey investigate shortstop Miguel Tejada for possibly lying to congressional staffers in 2005. In that case, however, the committee did not produce a separate memo in the probe into Tejada's testimony.

[+] EnlargeRoger Clemens
Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty ImagesThe House Oversight and Government Reform Committee found parts of Roger Clemens' testimony to be 'not truthful' and 'implausible.'
Citing testimony from doctors, trainers, former teammates of Clemens and even his former nanny, the analysis made public Wednesday lays out the seven areas in question:

1. Clemens' testimony under oath that he has never taken steroids or HGH

Three pieces of evidence are cited to contrast that assertion.

First is the testimony of McNamee, who initially cooperated with federal investigators under the threat that he could face charges if he lied. The personal trainer stated he injected Clemens with the steroid Winstrol "maybe 16 to 20 times" in 1998; testosterone "more than six and less than 10 times" and HGH "eight to 12 or eight to 20" times in 2000; and testosterone and nandrolone "8 to 14 times" in 2001.

The document noted that former teammates Chuck Knoblauch and Andy Pettitte admitted that McNamee had injected them both with human growth hormone, as the trainer had stated.

"There is little reason to believe that Mr. McNamee would provide truthful testimony about Mr. Pettitte and Mr. Knoblauch, but false testimony about Mr. Clemens," the authors of the analysis wrote.

The analysis also suggested McNamee's allegations were corroborated by a 2003 meeting at which he is believed to have warned Jim Murray, a representative for Clemens, that the pitcher "might test positive" for steroids.

The memo also cited a Jan. 3, 2007, e-mail from McNamee to Murray during which he described a meeting with lead BALCO investigator Jeff Novitzky but tried to assuage Murray by writing, "I WAS NOT OFFICIALLY TALKED TO AND WILL NEVER BE, I WILL NEVER BETRAY MY CLIENTS AND I WANT THEM NOT TO WORRY ABOUT BEING AROUND ME."

Additional evidence cited to question Clemens' denial includes statements from Pettitte and his wife, Laura, recounting two separate conversations Andy Pettitte said he had with Clemens about human growth hormone. As well, the memo suggests that medical evidence -- records and interviews with trainers and physicians -- raises doubts about whether a 1998 mass that developed on Clemens' right buttocks was caused by a B-12 injection, as the pitcher suggested.

2. Clemens' testimony that McNamee injected him with the painkiller lidocaine

Clemens stated McNamee injected him once with lidocaine, in his lower back, sometime after the 1998 All-Star break when the pitcher was with the Toronto Blue Jays. McNamee denied this, and the analysis cited a medical expert and team trainers raising doubts about Clemens' claim.

The memorandum notes that such an injection in the back would be a "difficult procedure with significant medical risks," including possible nerve damage, paralysis or even a heart attack. This is not the kind of procedure that would typically be performed by a personal trainer -- or even a team trainer -- according to the testimony.

Blue Jays team doctor Ronald Taylor said the notion of McNamee performing such an injection "doesn't make sense because it borders on -- well, it's malpractice." Blue Jays head trainer Tommy Craig told the committee he was "baffled" by the suggestion that McNamee performed such an injection, according to the memo. Also, there was nothing in the Blue Jays' medical records indicating a lidocaine injection.

To contrast, the report cited a 2005 lidocaine injection Clemens did receive in his lower back while with the Houston Astros. During that procedure, Clemens was under anesthesia and "the injection was administered by a specialist using X-ray fluoroscopy."

3. Clemens' testimony that team trainers gave him pain injections

Clemens testified that "all trainers have given me shots," specifically citing the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros. The memo states: "These statements by Mr. Clemens are contradicted by numerous team trainers and medical officials."

The Blue Jays trainers said team policy allowed only doctors to give injections. Dr. Arthur Pappas, the Red Sox medical director, also told the committee staff it was against team policy for trainers to provide injections.

The report cited one exception -- the Yankees. Head trainer Eugene Monahan told the committee he had injected Clemens once with Toradol, a pain medication.

4. Clemens' testimony that he received many vitamin B-12 injections

Clemens said McNamee had injected him with B-12 four to six times between 1998 and 2001, and he suggested it was common for team doctors and trainers to provide such injections, as well.

The memo states that team medical records dating back to 1995 indicate only one B-12 injection -- in 1998. The trainers and doctors for the four teams said it was "their practice to keep records of all injections administered to players, including those of vitamin B-12."

5. Clemens' testimony that he never discussed HGH with McNamee

In his deposition, Clemens states he never talked about growth hormone with McNamee, never asked him any questions about the substance and never had a specific conversation about it with the trainer. "These answers were not truthful," according to the memo, citing Clemens' own admissions at the end of his deposition.

Clemens, the report notes, acknowledged his wife's use of HGH as administered by McNamee in 2003. Clemens describes finding out after the fact about the injection and then talking to the trainer twice about an adverse reaction his wife had to the drug. The memo cites these exchanges as suggesting Clemens might have sought to mislead the committee.

"If the Committee staff had not asked Mr. Clemens whether a family member had used HGH, the Committee would never have known about Mr. Clemens' conversations with Mr. McNamee," according to the memo.

6. Clemens' testimony that he was not at then-teammate Jose Canseco's home from June 8-10, 1998

The now-infamous Canseco party has yielded everything from a former nanny stating Clemens was, indeed, at the house at some point, to a supposed photograph of the pitcher that was taken by a then-11-year-old boy who was at the party.

7. Clemens' testimony that he was "never told" that former Sen. George Mitchell had made a request to interview him as part of his steroids probe

The memo suggests it is implausible that, as Clemens claimed "at least six times under oath," he was unaware that Mitchell sought an interview. Clemens said his representatives never told him about such a request, but Pettitte -- who has the same agents -- said he was informed by Randy Hendricks that Mitchell wanted to speak with him about his use of growth hormone.

Mark Fainaru-Wada, co-author of "Game of Shadows," is a reporter for ESPN. He can be reached at markfwespn@gmail.com.