Let me start this one off with my typical Roger Clemens-Steroids disclaimer. I don’t know what Roger Clemens did or when. I don’t know if he’s telling the truth; I don’t know if Brian McNamee is telling the truth. But I do believe in the legal right that places the burden of proof on the prosecution. In other words, Clemens is innocent until proven guilty.
And this latest round of news — seven- or eight-year-old gauze or used syringes — hardly strikes me as a smoking gun.
The story according to Duff Wilson and Michael S. Schmidt of The Times:
Brian McNamee has given federal investigators bloody gauze pads, vials and syringes he said he used to inject Roger Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone in 2000 and 2001, a lawyer with knowledge of the case said Wednesday.
McNamee, Clemens’s former personal trainer, hopes that DNA and chemical tests on the materials will support his contention that he injected Clemens with those drugs, the lawyer said. The disclosure came a day after Clemens gave a sworn deposition to Congressional investigators Tuesday.
Clemens’s lawyer, Lanny A. Breuer, responded that McNamee “apparently has manufactured evidence” and was “a troubled man who is obsessed with doing everything possible to destroy Roger Clemens.”
It’s pretty hard to take this one too seriously, and I’ll turn to Breuer for a concise summary. Breuer said this “defies all credibility. It is just not credible — who in their right mind does such a thing?”
Supposedly, the story goes, McNamee had these syringes at home but had not yet opted to share them with federal investigators out of what one source termed “lingering loyalty” toward Clemens. When Clemens basically threw him under the bus at that bizarre press conference a few weeks ago, McNamee decided to wage his own war against the Rocket.
It doesn’t take a legal expert to know that this evidence would hardly be too convincing. As Schmidt details in a sidebar piece, this revelation brings up more questions than it answers. Why did McNamee withhold evidence for so long? Why and how was he storing the syringes?
Meanwhile, it’s nearly impossible to date leftover injections in syringes or crusted blood. As one law professor said to Schmidt, Clemens’ defense team will have a field day with this. “Clemens’s defense lawyers will attack McNamee on cross-examination, claiming that the evidence was manufactured by McNamee in response to the revelation that Clemens had taped him,” Mathew Rosengart said.
This story — already bizarre — just gets stranger by the day. I wonder if Bud Selig is still pleased that his half-hearted efforts at rooting out steroids in baseball has led to this debacle.