WASHINGTON – Under oath and sometimes blistering questioning, Roger Clemens stuck to his story Wednesday. So did his chief accuser and former personal trainer, Brian McNamee.
And after a 4 1/2-hour hearing, Congress settled for a draw in the he-said, he-said between the two men over whether the seven-time Cy Young Award winner used performance-enhancing drugs. Ultimately, the matter may be referred to the Justice Department for a resolution — and, possibly, criminal charges.
"I haven't reached any conclusions at this point," said California Democrat Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
But, as ranking Republican Tom Davis of Virginia, put it: "Both can't be telling the truth."
"I have never taken steroids or HGH," Clemens said under oath, his voice rising. "No matter what we discuss here today, I am never going to have my name restored."
For many, his denials rang hollow.
"It's hard to believe you, sir. I hate to say that," said Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat. "You're one of my heroes, but it's hard to believe.'ning statement and later pointed several times at his former personal trainer. For the most part, they did not look at each other.
Members of Congress questioned the credibility of both.
Waxman pointed out inconsistencies in Clemens' comments and accused him of possibly attempting to influence statements to the committee by the pitcher's former nanny.
Burton repeatedly read remarks McNamee had made, and each time the former trainer was forced to admit they were untrue.
"This is really disgusting. You're here as a sworn witness. You're here to tell the truth," he said. "I don't know what to believe. I know one thing I don't believe and that's you."
The hearing seemed to split the committee along party lines, with the Democrats reserving their most pointed queries for Clemens, and the Republicans giving McNamee a rougher time. Chris Shays, a Connecticut Republican, likened the hearing to a "Roman Circus" featuring gladiators.
Cummings set the tone within minutes, repeatedly reminding Clemens he was under oath and admonishing the pitcher to "keep your voice up." McNamee also was asked to pull his microphone closer.
The hearing started about an hour after several teams opened spring training. This was far from the sunny settings of Florida and Arizona.
Debbie Clemens, the pitcher's wife, sat behind her husband and listened as Waxman implicated her in HGH use, citing statements by Pettitte. Later, Clemens read a statement from his wife and said she "has been broken up over this."
IRS Special Agent Jeff Novitzky, a key member of the federal prosecution team against Barry Bonds, watched from a second-row seat. Asked why by a reporter, he declined comment.
Bonds, baseball's home run king, was indicted in November on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice stemming from his 2003 testimony to a grand jury in which he denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs. Because of his denials under oath, Clemens could be subjected to a similar criminal probe.
Pettitte, who was excused from testifying, said in a statement to the committee that Clemens admitted to him as long as 10 years ago that he used HGH. Waxman read from affidavits by Pettitte and Pettitte's wife, Laura, supporting the accusations.
"Andy Pettitte is my friend. He was my friend before this. He will be my friend after this and again. I think Andy has misheard," Clemens said. "I think he misremembers."
McNamee told former Senate majority leader George Mitchell that he injected Clemens 16 to 21 times with steroids and human growth hormone from 1998-01, and that Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch used HGH. In his opening statement, McNamee said he might have injected Clemens and Knoblauch more than that.
"I have helped taint our national pastime," McNamee said. "Make no mistake: When I told Sen. Mitchell that I injected Roger Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs, I told the truth."
Waxman said McNamee, a former New York City police officer, lied to police seven years ago during an investigation of a possible rape. He also was tough on Clemens.
"We have found conflicts and inconsistencies in Mr. Clemens' account. During his deposition, he made statements that we know are untrue," Waxman said.
In the affidavit, Pettitte said Clemens backtracked when the subject of HGH came up again in conversation in 2005, before the same House committee held the first hearing on steroids in baseball.
Pettitte said in the affidavit that he asked Clemens in 2005 what he would do if asked about performance-enhancing substances. Pettitte said Clemens responded by saying Pettitte misunderstood the previous exchange in 1999 or 2000 and that, in fact, Clemens had been talking about HGH use by his wife in the original conversation.
Clemens read a statement from his wife in which she acknowledged using HGH once, without his knowledge.
"She has been broken up over this for a long time," Clemens said. "She feels like a pawn."