Roger Clemens flexed his exposed buttocks and then relaxed.
“I’m ready,” he is alleged to have told Brian McNamee, who on Monday took jurors through the first time he claims he injected Clemens with steroids in 1998.
McNamee, Clemens’ former friend and personal trainer, testified that he plunged the 3-inch needle of a syringe filled with the anabolic steroid Winstrol V into Clemens’ right buttock in the bathroom of Clemens’ residence at the SkyDome. It was the first of eight to 10 times McNamee claims he injected the Toronto Blue Jays pitcher that summer.
Jurors looked on as McNamee — who avoided eye contact with Clemens sitting to his left — detailed in a thick Queens accent how, as the Blue Jays strength and conditioning coach, he came to meet Clemens. Eventually, McNamee claimed, he became the go-to person for what Clemens allegedly called “booty shots” of steroids. McNamee’s testimony not only looms large in Clemens’ perjury and obstruction trial here in US District Court, but also on the seven-time Cy Young Award winner’s hopes of making the Hall of Fame.
McNamee, who wore a tan suit and spotted yellow tie, wasn’t the perfect witness. He was clearly nervous — especially early in his testimony — and he appeared to get confused on a few questions, including when he was asked to show the court Jose Canseco’s Florida house in an aerial photo.
Still, McNamee painted a seemingly clear picture when it came to alleged early conversations about steroids with Clemens. Those early conversations at spring training progressed later that season to injecting Clemens, McNamee testified.
“I did it because I wanted to help and keep players physically safe,” said McNamee, whose only experience with needles to that point was to inject his diabetic son, also named Brian, with insulin. “But I enabled. . . . I knew what I was doing was illegal. I made a mistake. I was young. I wish I could take it back.”
Unlike McNamee, Clemens rarely broke eye contact with McNamee on the stand. Clemens has denied using performance-enhancing drugs, and his strongest refutation — which came in front of Congress in 2008 — led to the six counts he faces in this case. Clemens said he was injected only with Lidocaine and vitamin B-12.
While McNamee said he injected Clemens mostly at his suite at the SkyDome (now called the Rogers Centre), he did describe one instance while the Jays were on the road that season when he claims the two ducked into a storage room in the Tampa Bay Rays visiting clubhouse.
“I kept one foot on the door as I injected Roger,” McNamee said.
McNamee testified that he didn’t know where Clemens had gotten the steroids. He claims that Clemens — who according to McNamee doubled the dosage late in that cycle — eventually tossed a bag of the unused vials at McNamee and asked him to discard them after Clemens had developed a cyst on his buttocks, a common side effect of steroid use.
“I’m done with it,” McNamee claims he was told by Clemens.
Jurors have yet to hear some of the more explosive allegations McNamee has made.
McNamee eventually was hired by the Yankees as an assistant strength and conditioning coach before the 2000 season, a season after Clemens was traded to the team. McNamee told officials involved in the independent investigation of baseball’s steroid era — a probe detailed in the 2007 Mitchell Report — that he provided and sometimes injected steroids into Clemens in 2000 and 2001, along with human growth hormone in 2000.
He turned over some steroid vials, gauze and syringes that are alleged to have Clemens’ DNA on them to authorities.
McNamee’s testimony, which ran about four hours on Monday, went as far as his hiring in New York and only included questions from Assistant US Attorney Daniel Butler. The direct examination is scheduled to continue Tuesday morning. Once Clemens’ lawyer gets to cross-examine McNamee, several cracks could appear.
Judge Reggie Walton ruled that Clemens’ attorney could not use information in McNamee’s divorce papers, although at least some of the incidents around why McNamee’s contract was not renewed by the Yankees after the 2001 season can be introduced.
Jurors won’t hear that McNamee was accused of having sex with an incoherent woman without her consent at a hotel pool in St. Petersburg, Fla., since he wasn’t charged, but the fact there was a police investigation can be offered.
Clemens’ lawyers also can introduce two incidents that occurred while McNamee was a New York police officer.