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Clemens to say he was given legal injections

He tells '60 Minutes' it was painkiller and B-12, not steroids. McNamee's lawyer warns about defamation.

January 04, 2008|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

Roger Clemens will claim in an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" on Sunday that his former strength coach Brian McNamee gave him legal injections of lidocaine and B-12, not performance-enhancing drugs, the network announced Thursday.

Lidocaine is a pain reliever.

"It's for my joints," Clemens tells veteran network journalist Mike Wallace in the interview, conducted at Clemens' home in Katy, Texas, "and B-12 I still take today."

Those comments contradict what Brian McNamee, the seven-time Cy Young Award pitcher's former strength coach, said in former Sen. George Mitchell's report on performance-enhancing drug use in Major League Baseball. McNamee said in the report he injected Clemens with steroids the pitcher gave him in 1998, and he again injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone in 2000 and more steroids in 2001. Use of those drugs is now banned by MLB.

"Brian has a master's degree in sports medicine," McNamee's attorney, Earl Ward, said Thursday. "Brian says he knows the difference between lidocaine and B-12, and what he injected Roger with, and Clemens knows the difference too.

"This was not lidocaine or B-12."

Clemens was warned Thursday by McNamee's attorneys to not characterize the former strength and conditioning coach for the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees as a liar in the "60 Minutes" interview.

Ward said, "We're prepared to file a defamation lawsuit" if Clemens attacks his client's character.

"I don't care if he was using Kryptonite, but if he calls Brian a liar, he has problems," McNamee attorney Richard Emery said of Clemens.

Emery said a civil lawsuit could expose Clemens to being forced to provide sworn statements in a deposition, in which he would be asked about his history of injections with McNamee.

"If he lies under oath in a deposition, a prosecutor can go after him for perjury, and I would certainly support that," Emery said. "It's one thing to say these things on television. He wouldn't be foolhardy enough to repeat them under oath."

Emery on Thursday told the New York Times that Clemens still has time to retract any comments that paint McNamee as untruthful before the interview airs. It was conducted Dec. 28.

Clemens has "got a chance to protect himself," Emery, a New York-based lawyer who specializes in libel and defamation actions, told the newspaper. "We're not going to sue him if he doesn't do it. But if he does it, we're going to sue him."

Ward has said McNamee stands behind the accuracy of the information he provided Mitchell.

Ward said McNamee has pointed out legal injections such as lidocaine and B-12 would most likely have been given by a team's trainer, not the strength coach.

"Where did Brian get the lidocaine and B-12?" Ward asked. "This all makes no sense. At some point, this is all going to fall apart" on Clemens.

Ward said beyond McNamee's own statements in the Mitchell Report, the ex-strength coach holds no other "smoking gun," such as a canceled check or tape recording, that proves Clemens' performance-enhancing drug use. If McNamee were found to have given false statements in the Mitchell Report, he would be subject to federal felony charges.

"Andy Pettitte was Brian's smoking gun," Ward said.

McNamee told Mitchell that Pettitte, Clemens' longtime teammate and friend, formerly used HGH. Pettitte has since acknowledged twice using the drug, explaining he was rehabilitating from an injury.

"That did more for Brian's credibility than anything else," Ward said.

In the "60 Minutes" interview, Clemens calls the accusation that he ever used performance-enhancing drugs "ridiculous" and says he "never" used any banned substances.

"Swear?" asks Wallace.

"Swear," says Clemens.

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lance.pugmire@latimes.com

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