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Roger Clemens' attorney again attacks Brian McNamee's credibility

The former trainer testifies that the can holding a needle allegedly used by Clemens to inject steroids also held material from other players.

May 18, 2012|By Ian Duncan, Tribune Washington Bureau
  • Roger Clemens' former trainer Brian McNamee leaves federal court in Washington.
Roger Clemens' former trainer Brian McNamee leaves federal court… (Jacquelyn Martin / Associated…)

WASHINGTON — Brian McNamee, the chief accuser of former pitching star Roger Clemens, was left with his credibility hanging in the balance Friday after the latest of four grueling sessions of cross-examination by the defense at Clemens' perjury trial.

McNamee, a former trainer, claims he repeatedly injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone between 1998 and 2001. In testimony to Congress in 2008 Clemens denied using the drugs, which prosecutors argue was a lie.

Clemens lawyer Rusty Hardin worked carefully through the physical evidence of Clemens' alleged drug use that McNamee provided. After a steroid shot at Clemens' apartment in August 2001, McNamee said he put a needle, syringe, cotton balls and other waste in a beer can to hold onto as insurance. But he admitted Friday that he also put evidence of other players' steroid use into the same can when he returned home that night.

McNamee admitted to congressional investigators in 2008 that some items in the can were not linked to Clemens. But, Hardin asked, have you ever told the government you put them in the can after returning home from Clemens' apartment?

"Not in that way," McNamee said.

"Isn't this a classic example of you making things up on the fly when you are pushed?" Hardin asked.

When a government objection provided a letup in the questioning, McNamee's head drooped behind a computer screen on the witness stand.

Hardin spent much of the four days of cross-examination working to paint McNamee as a serial liar willing to say anything to stay out of trouble and as a stooge of government investigators determined to ruin the reputation of Clemens.

Hatching a plan to rehabilitate McNamee when they re-question him Monday, prosecutors filed a motion asking to be able to show that the former trainer provided reliable evidence about other baseball players' steroid use. That would show, they said, he had no particular bias against Clemens.

McNamee's credibility is crucial to the government's case. He is the only witness who claims to have direct knowledge of Clemens' drug use.

The syringes, needles and cotton balls, which the government will argue contain Clemens' DNA and is therefore reliable, have not yet been authenticated for the jury by scientific experts.

Hardin argued that once it was clear Clemens' name would be made public as a result of government investigations into steroid abuse, McNamee used his role to try to make a quick buck, writing an autobiography and promoting a sports website through YouTube videos and an appearance on the Howard Stern radio show.

In a photograph of that appearance shown to jurors, McNamee wore a black hoodie he signed with his name and marked "Ly-0," a reference to Clemens' habit of adding "Cy-7" to his autograph to acknowledge his seven Cy Young awards.

Hardin asked what Ly-0 signified. "That I didn't tell any lies," McNamee said.

"That would be a lie, wouldn't it?" Hardin shot back. "How many lies have you testified to the jury about in the last three days? Did you lose count?"

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