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Clemens denies HGH use before Congress; McNamee repeats accusations

Roger Clemens and his ex-trainer stick to different stories, amid withering questioning on Hill.

By Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / February 14, 2008

Sworn in: Pitcher Roger Clemens (r.) and Brian McNamee (l.), his former trainer, prepared to testify under oath Wednesday. Also summoned to testify was Charles Scheeler (c.), a lawyer who helped produce the Mitchell report.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP



On the baseball field one team wins, and another loses.

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But in the House Oversight Committee's hearing Wednesday into allegations that pitcher Roger Clemens used performance-enhancing drugs, no winner immediately seemed apparent. Both Mr. Clemens and his accuser, former trainer Brian McNamee, suffered withering attacks on their credibility by committee members.

"It's impossible to believe this is a simple misunderstanding," said panel chairman Rep. Henry Waxman (D) of California in his opening statement. "Someone is not telling the truth."

Legal experts noted that Mr. Clemens is putting himself in legal jeopardy by testifying before Congress, if he is less than completely truthful. But to not appear would be to receive a blow in the court of public opinion.

"Clemens may have decided that it is worse for him to lose [face], so he will stick to his story and attempt to save face no matter the consequences," says Jeffrey Standen, a sports law expert and professor at the Willamette University College of Law in Salem Ore., in an e-mail response to a reporter's inquiry.

Of course, it is possible that Clemens is telling the full truth. In his public testimony, he repeated his vehement denials that he had ever used either steroids or human growth hormone (HGH).

"I pride myself as [being] an example for kids, my own as well as others," Clemens told committee members.

In the early minutes of the panel hearing, however, lawmakers made clear that Clemens's former teammate on the New York Yankees and Houston Astros, fellow pitcher Andy Pettitte, had provided important corroborating evidence for his accuser.

In 1999 or 2000, Mr. Pettitte and Clemens had a conversation in which Clemens said that he had used HGH, according to a deposition Pettitte provided lawmakers.

Pettitte told his wife about that discussion at the time, he said. His wife, in her own deposition, backed up that story.

Then in 2005, Pettitte asked Clemens again about HGH, according to the deposition. At that time, Clemens denied to his teammate that he had used HGH – and said instead that his wife had had an HGH injection.

Pettitte's wife backed up his version of this conversation as well.

Clemens denied ever telling Pettitte that he had used any performance-enhancing substance.

"I think he misremembers our conversation," he told panel members.

Clemens did admit that his wife had a shot of HGH in an attempt to get in shape for a photo shoot of the couple. He did not find out about the incident until after the fact, he said.

Mr. McNamee, who administered the shot, said that Clemens had prior knowledge of it and approved the action.

After receiving the injection, Mrs. Clemens said she felt "wiggy" and was having circulation problems, said her husband. He called up McNamee and berated him for what had happened.

Under questioning, Clemens acknowledged that at no time did he call a health professional about his wife's reaction.