May 23, 2012 / 11:20 PM / 5 years ago

Clemens and accuser McNamee were close, ex-Yankees trainer says

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens arrives at the federal courthouse in Washington April 16, 2012. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Roger Clemens had a close relationship with his ex-strength and conditioning coach who has said he injected the former pitching ace with performance-enhancing drugs, a retired New York Yankees trainer testified in Clemens’ perjury trial on Wednesday.

Prosecutors were using the testimony by Eugene Monahan to try to establish a close relationship between Brian McNamee, the government’s star witness, who has said he injected Clemens with anabolic steroids and human growth hormone from 1998 to 2001.

“They were associates and they were close,” Monahan said, describing Clemens’ and McNamee’s relationship. McNamee worked with Clemens when he pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Yankees.

Prosecutors showed a memo Monahan had written for the Yankees in 2000, where he wrote that Clemens “maintains complete confidence and respect” for McNamee.

The defense has worked to paint McNamee as a liar who has obtained immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony.

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 Major League Baseball. His first trial ended in a mistrial last year.

Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner as best pitcher, has repeatedly denied taking performance-enhancing drugs or lying to lawmakers, saying that McNamee had injected him with shots of vitamin B12 and the anesthetic lidocaine instead.

Monahan testified that McNamee, as a strength and conditioning coach, would not have had access or authority to administer injections to players on the team, particularly a prescription form of vitamin B12 used for head colds, flu or flu symptoms that can be given in a shot.

The team kept supplies of vitamin B-12 under lock and key, Monahan said.

Asked what Monahan would do if he stumbled on McNamee giving Clemens an injection, he said: “My reaction would be, ‘What you got there? What’s going on? What’s happening?’ ... It was not his authority to be engaged in that kind of practice.”

The trial is scheduled to run until June 8.

Reporting by Lily Kuo; Editing by Peter Cooney

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