WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A key prosecution witness in Roger Clemens’s perjury trial said on Monday he started giving the former baseball star “bootie shots” of anabolic steroids at his request early in the 1998 season.
Brian McNamee, whose testimony is crucial to prosecutors’ charges that Clemens lied to Congress about his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs, said he first injected the pitcher with drugs in his apartment suite at the Toronto Blue Jays’ Skydome stadium.
McNamee, then the Blue Jays’ strength coach, said under prosecution questioning that Clemens had asked him privately to give him a “bootie shot” of testosterone in his buttock. Clemens laid out the drug in an ampoule along with a needle and gauze in his bathroom and told McNamee to prepare the shot.
“I was just suppose to tell him when it was ready,” said McNamee, 45.
He said Clemens came into the bathroom, dropped his pants and bared his right buttock. Clemens flexed it and relaxed it and said, “‘I‘m ready,'” McNamee said.
The trainer then injected the drug, which was the color of powdery skim milk.
“THAT WAS REALLY EASY”
“‘Wow, that was really easy,'” he quoted Clemens as saying. “And then just pleasantries ... I don’t think we saw each other that night. And that was the first time I injected Roger Clemens.”
McNamee said he gave Clemens eight to 10 injections of testosterone during the summer of 1998, doubling the dose after four or five sessions.
McNamee also injected Clemens in a utility closet of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ clubhouse as players outside were racing to pack and go to the airport, he said.
The former trainer told the court he knew what he was doing was illegal but felt compelled to do it since Clemens was one of the greatest pitchers ever - “a superstar” - and a team leader, he said.
“It was a mistake, and I wish I could have taken it back,” he said.
Clemens halted the injections after he developed an abscess on his buttock, McNamee said. The pitcher walked over in the locker room and tossed a brown bag full of steroid ampoules inside a locker. “‘Get rid of that. I‘m done with it,'” McNamee quoted him as saying.
Asked if he discussed with Clemens where the pitcher got the drugs, McNamee said: “Don’t ask, don’t tell. I didn’t really want to” know.
McNamee has said he injected Clemens with anabolic steroids in 1998, 2000 and 2001, and human growth hormone in 2001.
To challenge McNamee’s trustworthiness, Clemens’ lawyers have labeled him a liar and are expected to allege he had substance-abuse problems at the time he has said he gave drugs to Clemens. He is expected to spend several days on the stand.
McNamee, who looked thin and pale and was dressed in a light gray suit, directed his answers largely to the jury. Clemens, 49, leaned back in his chair at the defense table as he listened to his former trainer.
His assertions about Clemens are in line with statements he gave to former U.S. Senator George Mitchell for a 2007 report on performance-enhancing drug use in Major League Baseball.
Clemens is being tried for a second time on federal charges of lying to the House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2008 about drug use. His first trial ended in a mistrial last year.
McNamee followed Clemens from the Blue Jayes to the New York Yankees in 2000 as the team’s assistant strength coach.
He was let go by the Yankees in 2001 after complaints of insubordination and after police investigating a Florida rape case said the trainer had lied to them. McNamee was never charged in the case.
But after 2001, McNamee became a personal trainer to Clemens and Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, who has admitted taking human growth hormone.
Pettitte testified two weeks ago that Clemens had told him in 1999 or 2000 he had used human growth hormone. But under questioning by defense lawyers, Pettitte said he was “50-50,” or unsure about his recollection.
Defense lawyers argued that Pettitte’s testimony failed to reach a “preponderance” standard for evidence of more than 50 percent. The standard refers to whether more than half of the evidence points one way or the other.
In a victory for the prosecution earlier Monday, Judge Reggie Walton ruled that Pettitte’s wavering testimony should stand, saying the standard had been met since prosecutors had presented Pettitte’s allegation about Clemens’ comment in a timeline to the jury.
The trial is starting its fourth week. Clemens faces one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making a false statement and two counts of perjury.
Clemens won 354 games and is a record seven-time winner of the yearly Cy Young Awards as best pitcher. He is among the biggest names implicated in drug use in baseball.
Reporting By Ian Simpson; Editing by Philip Barbara