Showdown Set in Clemens Hearing
Brian McNamee, former personal trainer to All-Star pitcher Roger Clemens, says he injected the baseball player with steroids and human growth hormone (HGH). Clemens says that's a lie. Both men will tell their stories under oath on Wednesday in what is expected to be a high-stakes hearing on Capitol Hill.
The House Oversight Committee met on Tuesday as a sort of warm-up to the drama that's likely to unfold when Clemens and McNamee face off. The panel heard from medical experts about the drugs at the heart of the controversy.
Only a handful of the 40 committee members showed up to the Feb. 12 hearing. And there were empty spots in the media and public seating areas, which certainly won't be the case on Wednesday.
Still, Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) said the session was important — a way to replace myths about banned drugs with facts.
Faster and Stronger?
In his recent report on doping in baseball, former Sen. George Mitchell identified HGH as the drug of choice for players — mainly because there's no valid test for it. Indeed, HGH was the prime topic at the hearing, as Waxman asked witness Dr. Alan Rogol of the University of Virginia about the growth hormone's alleged benefits to healthy athletes.
According to Rogol, taken by itself, HGH is unlikely to make an athlete faster or stronger.
But there is evidence that when taken with anabolic steroids, HGH can increase the steroids' effects. But the consensus at the hearing was that nothing about human growth hormone has been scientifically proven.
And consensus is not expected at Wednesday's hearing either, when Clemens and McNamee stand up and swear to tell the whole truth. One of them won't if they stick to their stories.
In the Mitchell report, McNamee said he injected Clemens with HGH and steroids a number of times in 1998, 2000 and 2001. Clemens has denied it and neither man has budged.
And the dispute has gotten nasty. Late last week, McNamee's lawyers revealed pictures of what they called evidence of Clemens' guilt: syringes, needles and bloody gauze that McNamee claimed to have used on Clemens and saved for a number of years to protect himself.
"He had a sense that Roger was not trustworthy and would betray him ultimately," says Richard Emery, McNamee's attorney. "And he certainly said about himself, if he was going to get thrown under the bus by Roger, he was going to take Roger with him."
Clemens' lawyer, Rusty Hardin, fired back with an attack on McNamee, calling him a "troubled, non-well man."
What's at Stake?
Wednesday's hearing promises to be dramatic. But to what effect? One of the witnesses will risk a perjury investigation. Some will question the integrity of the Mitchell Report. And others will wonder about Clemens' legacy as the greatest pitcher of his generation. But most people who care about baseball will turn their attention instead to the imminent start of spring training, according to Dr. Charles Yesalis, a longtime doping expert.
"I think, actually, the public is at the point of being desensitized to it, in that they've heard about so many scandals involving doping in so many sports," Yesalis says.
Clemens isn't taking any chances, though. On Tuesday, he was on Capitol Hill for the third time, talking one-on-one to committee members in advance of Wednesday's hearing.
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