Key witness against Clemens says provided drugs to other players

WASHINGTON Mon May 21, 2012 5:47pm EDT

1 of 6. Brian McNamee, former trainer of Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens, leaves the federal courthouse in Washington May 16, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Brian McNamee, the key government witness in the perjury trial of former baseball star Roger Clemens over the use of banned drugs, said on Monday that he had also provided two other players with human growth hormone and helped a third obtain the performance-enhancing drug.

McNamee, a former athletic trainer who was on the witness stand for a sixth day, said he gave the drug to current New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, a friend of Clemens who testified in the trial, and to former Yankees infielder Chuck Knoblauch.

He said he also connected former Yankees pitcher Mike Stanton with a dealer who sold the player human growth hormone.

"Have you always maintained that you provided growth hormones to Mr. Pettitte in 2002 and Mr. Knoblauch in 2001?" Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Butler asked.

McNamee answered: "Yes."

"Did you respect Clemens at the time? Were you loyal to him?" Butler asked. "Yes, sir," McNamee said.

McNamee's testimony came as government prosecutors worked to bolster the credibility of their key witness in the trial of Clemens, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner accused of lying to Congress about using steroids. The defense has worked to paint McNamee as a liar who has obtained immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony.

Prosecutors won the judge's approval to include McNamee's testimony about other players to whom he provided drugs. The decision allows them to argue that Clemens, 49, was not the only player McNamee named as having used performance-enhancing drugs.

ASSESSING CREDIBILITY

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton decided the government could only use that evidence as a way to assess McNamee's credibility. But it could not be used toward arguing whether Clemens used growth hormone or steroids.

McNamee worked for Clemens while he pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Yankees. McNamee says he injected the pitcher with anabolic steroids and human growth hormone from 1998 to 2001.

Pettitte testified two weeks ago that Clemens told him in 1999 or 2000 he had used human growth hormone. Under questioning by defense lawyers he said he was "50-50," or unsure about his recollection, making McNamee's testimony more important to the prosecution.

Clemens is being tried for a second time on federal charges of lying in 2008 to the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which was investigating drug use in baseball. His first trial ended in a mistrial last year.

In other testimony, Alexander Lowrey, 25, said he posed with Clemens for a photo at a 1998 pool party at the Florida home of Jose Canseco, a Toronto Blue Jays teammate and an admitted steroid user.

McNamee has said he saw Canseco and Clemens together at the party, which was held during a series with the Florida Marlins, and Canseco gave him steroid needles to take back to Toronto. Clemens testified before Congress that he did not attend it.

A Federal Bureau of Investigation fingerprint expert, Elizabeth Fontaine, testified that only McNamee's prints were conclusively identified on plastic bags and medical waste, including needles and drug ampoules, that McNamee said he had stashed after injecting Clemens with steroids in 2001.

The prints were found on one plastic bag, she said.

The trial is scheduled to run until June 8.

(Reporting By Lily Kuo and Ian Simpson; Editing by Vicki Allen and Eric Walsh)

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