- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2008

Roger Clemens told a House committee yesterday he has never used steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs.

His former trainer, Brian McNamee testified that he injected Clemens with human growth hormone several times.

One of them is lying.

So now federal investigators are faced with two questions: Which man has committed perjury before Congress, and is there enough evidence to bring charges?

House members said yesterday they have had no discussion about referring either Clemens or McNamee to the Justice Department, but a perjury indictment tied to testimony about steroids would not be unprecedented. Former track star Marion Jones was sentenced last month to six months in prison after committing perjury during an investigation into her ties to steroids and the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO). All-time home run king Barry Bonds was indicted for perjury last year after federal prosecutors said he lied during grand jury testimony related to the BALCO case.

The House panel previously looked into charging former Baltimore Orioles player Rafael Palmeiro with perjury after testifying in 2005 that he never took steroids. Palmeiro later tested positive for steroids, but the committee could not prove he lied when he testified. The same House panel has since asked the Justice Department to explore perjury charges against Miguel Tejada, Palmeiro’s former teammate, after he testified knowing nothing about steroids. Tejada was named in the Mitchell Report.

And it should be noted that Jeff Novitzky, the IRS special agent in charge of a federal investigation into steroids in sports, was in attendance yesterday.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt the federal authorities would love to charge someone with perjury,” said Billy Martin, a D.C.-based attorney who has defended several high-profile athletes, including Michael Vick. “They’re going to look at it. The feds take it very seriously.”

Naturally, the attorneys for Clemens and McNamee insisted their clients have been truthful.

“Roger Clemens certainly did not commit perjury,” Clemens attorney Rusty Hardin said. “The very fact that Roger agreed to avail himself of this possibility and still agreed to swear under two different times should show you he’s committed strongly to telling the truth.”

Said Richard Emery, attorney for McNamee: “Everyone should walk away from this knowing that Brian McNamee is telling the truth.”

Emery also said “we believe Clemens will be referred” to the Justice Department.

While legal experts consider perjury difficult to prove, they said there is an large amount of evidence available to build a potential case. In addition to testifying under oath yesterday, both submitted to sworn depositions last week. Meanwhile, investigators are examining syringes and gauze McNamee claims he used to inject Clemens with human growth hormone in 2000 and 2001.

The accounts of other witnesses also may play a role. One of Clemens’ former teammates, Andy Pettitte, told congressional investigators he recalled Clemens telling him he took HGH.

Whether perjury charges are eventually filed or not, legal experts said both men took huge risks by testifying yesterday. Clemens, in particular, may be at the most risk because he has been the more vocal of the two and because McNamee is the government’s witness.

“[Clemens] decided that the best way to try and clear his good name was to play high stakes poker and try to convince people he’s telling the truth,” Martin said.

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