Novitzky eager to sit down with Canseco to discuss Clemens probe

Updated: March 19, 2008, 1:12 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The federal government is hopeful that Jose Canseco can fit in face-to-face time with IRS special agent Jeff Novitzky, its lead steroids investigator, during his upcoming book tour, according to a report in Wednesday's New York Daily News.

Novitzky reportedly wants to talk to Canseco as part of the federal investigation into performance-enhancing drugs in sports. Canseco said in a sworn affidavit in January that he'd never seen Roger Clemens "use, possess or ask for steroids or human growth hormone." The affidavit is part of the evidence gathered by the congressional committee looking at drugs in baseball.

Novitzky's role in the feds' investigation, which began five years ago with the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, has grown to focus on Clemens and whether the pitcher perjured himself before Congress when he testified that he never took performance-enhancing drugs.

The report suggested Novitzky appears to be at the mercy of Canseco and his attorney, however. Canseco, who will visit six cities while promiting his second steroids-related book "Vindicated", will be in San Francisco on April 9 and 10, where Novitzky is headquartered.

"This is what it is -- we have a book tour and part of the tour happens to be in San Francisco where Novitzky is," Canseco's attorney, Robert Saunooke, told the Daily News for Wednesday's editions. "And assuming that we have time when we're up there to see him, we will. If we don't have time, then we won't."

Saunooke told the Daily News that Canseco is willing to cooperate with the government but cautioned that his client is "not under subpoena" to speak to Novitzky.

"I'm not going to get in a plane, nor is Jose, at our expense, to go flying out on whatever wild goose chase they want to go on.

"We're happy to help, but we're not going to go out of our way to find them," Saunooke told the newspaper. "They know where we are. We can cooperate, we always have. It just happens that we'll be in San Francisco, and if that works well, that works well."

Reached by the Daily News, Novitzky would not say if, or when, he will interview Canseco.

The feds have a keen interest in talking to Canseco about Clemens based on Canseco's sworn affidavit. The FBI took up the Clemens case on Feb. 28, when it was told by the Justice Department to investigate whether Clemens lied under oath.

The FBI's involvement was announced one day after the leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee told Attorney General Michael Mukasey they weren't sure whether Clemens told the truth under oath at a Feb. 5 deposition and Feb. 13 public hearing.

A probe could result in charges against the seven-time Cy Young Award winner for perjury, making false statements or obstruction of justice. Congress did not ask for a similar investigation of Brian McNamee, the former personal trainer who testified under oath that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone.

For the government's case, the link between Canseco and Clemens is a June 1998 party at Canseco's home described by McNamee in the Mitchell report. According to McNamee, Clemens first raised the subject of steroids not long after McNamee saw Canseco and Clemens meeting during the party.

The affidavit from Canseco supports Clemens' assertion that he wasn't present at Canseco's home that day.

"I specifically recall that Clemens did not come to the bar-b-que," Canseco said in his affidavit. "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."

The exact contents of "Vindicated" have not been divulged. The book, to be published by Simon Spotlight Entertainment, will hit bookstores on March 31. He is scheduled to be on ABC's Nightline on March 31 and the Howard Stern show on the day of the book's release.

It is the followup to Canseco's 2005 book "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big." The book, which described his steroids use and implicated Mark McGwire, among others, rocked Major League Baseball.

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