- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2008

After hours of closed-door interviews, a press conference and an interview on “60 Minutes,” former Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens will appear before a House committee today to discuss allegations he used performance enhancing drugs, including human growth hormone, during his career.

The hearing, which originally was scheduled for last month, comes in the wake of an investigation from former Sen. George Mitchell that outlined the widespread use of steroids and other drugs in baseball.

Clemens was named in the report, accused of cheating by his former trainer, Brian McNamee, who also will testify today.

The former pitcher, who has denied attempting to cheat, likely will sit at a table with McNamee, who claims he injected Clemens with HGH 16 times between 1998 and 2001.

Charlie Scheeler, one of the authors of Mitchell Report, likely will be seated in between the two men. Across from them will be as many as 41 House members, all with questions about steroids, HGH and who did what and when.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform went through a similar exercise last month when it questioned Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, union head Don Fehr and Mitchell about the contents of the report. That hearing was not considered contentious; legal experts predict today’s session will have more fireworks.

Those same experts, however, also have questioned the purpose of today’s hearing, which has never been fully articulated by Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat and chairman of the committee.

“This is just kind of a free-form investigation, and I don’t see it linked to any potential legislation,” said Howard Wasserman, an associate professor of law at Florida International University and a frequent contributor to the Sports Law Blog. “I’m a little troubled by that. If there was some legislation, I’d be a little more understanding of Congress doing it. Otherwise, it’s just grandstanding, and it’s just everyone getting their moment in the sun.”

Yesterday, committee members held a hearing to discuss the potential effects of HGH, and several doctors told them neither HGH nor B-12, which is not banned, play much of a role in helping athletic performance.

What’s clear is that the committee already has spent several hours interviewing Clemens, McNamee and Clemens’ former teammates Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch, who also are named in the Mitchell Report. On Monday, Waxman announced he had removed Pettitte and Knoblauch from today’s witness list.

Through it all, Clemens has been steadfast and often angry in proclaiming his innocence, saying McNamee injected him with Lidocaine, an anaesthetic, and B-12. He has sued McNamee for defamation.

McNamee, in turn, has defended his story, revealing last week he had turned over syringes and gauze pads he claimed contained Clemens’ blood to federal investigators.

The matter got truly contentious when McNamee said last week he also injected Clemens’ wife with HGH before she appeared in a swimsuit photoshoot.

Clemens and his attorney, Rusty Hardin, meanwhile, have sought to discredit McNamee by pointing out that his testimony in the Mitchell Report came after he had struck a deal with government prosecutors who were investigating steroid use in sports.

Jeff Novitsky, the IRS agent in charge of that investigation, could attend today’s hearing.

Legal experts said it is impossible that both Clemens and McNamee are telling the truth. Given that, today’s hearing could be seen as a full airing of the facts to determine who is more credible, they said.

“Congress feels there’s value to making public the various sides of the story,” said Eric Delinsky, a partner at the Zuckerman Spaeder law firm in the District and a white-collar criminal litigator. “We can quibble over whether it’s appropriate, but to the extent that they’d like to show what they have to the public, it makes sense to go forward.”

While committee members are expected to press Clemens and McNamee on their stories, legal experts said recent reports of lawmakers’ staff posing for photographs with Clemens and asking for autographs troubled them.

“The noncynical part of me would think that they’re going to take this seriously and commit to finding the truth and that they’re going to ask tough questions, including ‘Did you do what is alleged in the Mitchell Report?’ ” Wasserman said. “History suggests that it’s just not the case and that members are going to come in with preconceived notions.”

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