WASHINGTON -- A government witness testified Tuesday that Brian McNamee said he had injected pitcher Roger Clemens with human growth hormone and had saved syringes, part of a prosecution attempt to dispel defense suggestions that McNamee fabricated those claims to avoid going to jail.
“Mr. McNamee had mentioned that Mr. Clemens was one of the athletes that was getting positive results from” HGH, said Anthony Corso, recalling a conversation from around 2002.
McNamee, Clemens’ former strength and conditioning coach, has testified that he injected Clemens with HGH in 2000, and steroids in 1998, 2000 and 2001. Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is accused of lying to Congress in 2008 when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs. A key piece of evidence in the trial is medical waste from an alleged 2001 steroids injection of Clemens that McNamee said he saved in a beer can and FedEx box.
Corso, a large, blunt-spoken New Yorker who works as a managing partner in a consulting firm, was one of McNamee’s private workout clients in the 2000s. Corso recalled asking McNamee around 2005 about a newspaper story concerning performance-enhancing drugs.
“’I’m not going to get thrown under the bus because I’ve taken care of it,” Corso remembered McNamee saying. “He said he had saved some syringes and thrown them in a beer can, and thrown them in a FedEx box.”
Both conversations took place before 2007, when McNamee, under pressure from federal investigators, said he had injected Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs. Defense lawyers have suggested that McNamee fabricated the claims and evidence to stay out of legal trouble himself. Prosecutors hope to rebut that with the earlier conversations.
Corso said McNamee convinced him to use HGH himself, and that McNamee mentioned the positive benefits that ballplayers had received from the drug.
But Corso said that McNamee never told him about giving steroids to players. When the 2007 Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball revealed McNamee’s role in steroids, Corso asked why the coach hadn’t mentioned steroids to him.
“He said it was none of my business,” Corso recalled.
Under cross-examination, Corso said that McNamee described a relationship with Clemens that was “deteriorating” over issues such as compensation and lack of sensitivity to McNamee’s family’s needs. The defense wants to paint a picture of an angry McNamee who would have had a motivation to take down Clemens.
Corso complicated things for the government when, responding to a question from one of the jurors, he said that Clemens’ name did not come up in connection with the syringes McNamee had saved. After Corso had been excused as a witness, prosecutor Steven Durham convinced U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton to bring him back.
Durham told Corso that in his grand jury testimony, he had quoted McNamee as saying, “I saved two syringes that I used on Roger.” When Hardin then asked Corso what his memory today is of whether Clemens’ name was mentioned, the witness said he didn’t recall.
Earlier Tuesday, Walton excused a third juror, leaving just one alternate as the trial entered its seventh week.
He said the juror, who works in law enforcement with the local public transportation authority in Washington, D.C., won’t be able to return following the death of her mother last week. Two jurors previously were dismissed for sleeping.
“So I’d ask everybody to stay healthy and available,” Walton told the remaining jurors.