NEW YORK | Roger Clemens tried the silent treatment for more than a year and saw where that got him.
With many fans believing allegations that the seven-time Cy Young Award winner used performance-enhancing drugs, he’s now attempting a different strategy. Clemens hired a firm that guides high-profile figures through public relations crises, and Tuesday he broke his silence with a radio appearance.
Clemens again denied that former personal trainer Brian McNamee injected him with performance-enhancing drugs in a phone interview on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike in the Morning.”
“He’s never injected me with HGH or steroids,” Clemens said of McNamee’s assertions to baseball investigator George Mitchell.
About three weeks ago, Clemens met in Houston with representatives from D.C.-based Levick Strategic Communications. Levick senior vice president Gene Grabowski said Clemens was referred by his lawyers and agents.
“Because of the litigation, he felt obligated on advice of counsel not to speak,” Grabowski said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press. “What he learned in that year was that by not speaking no one was going to tell his story.”
Recalled Clemens, “They came in and said, ‘You need to get your story out about all this garbage that is being said.”’
Clemens said he chose to speak out because it was the release date of a book about his reported drug use.
“It’s important for me to do that,” he said. “I’ve seen excerpts of the book, and they’re completely false. … You know, guys, it’s piling on. It’s hurtful at times. But I’m moving on.”
Clemens appeared on CBS’ “60 Minutes” in January 2008, then held a news conference the next day. But he had stayed quiet since testifying before Congress the following month.
While “American Icon: The Fall of Roger Clemens and the Rise of Steroids in America’s Pastime” was officially released Tuesday, its revelations were not new to the public. The book, by four New York Daily News reporters, recaps previous reports in the newspaper. It had been available to reviewers and had excerpts published before Tuesday.
Clemens is under investigation by a federal grand jury in the District that is trying to determine whether he lied when he told a congressional committee that he had not used illegal performance-enhancing drugs. Clemens said he had not been summoned to testify before the grand jury.
He also has sued McNamee for defamation. While not mentioning McNamee by name, Clemens said, “you’ve got somebody that’s out there that is really just crawling up your back to make a buck.”
“This, in my view, is going to backfire because he’s publicly now poking a stick in Congress’ eye,” McNamee’s lead lawyer, Richard Emery, told the AP. “And to me, all that’s going to do is vitalize the prosecutors going forward. Nobody, for a minute, thinks he’s not a liar just because he’s talking.”
Clemens said he had given a DNA sample to federal investigators but that syringes provided by McNamee would not link him to performance-enhancing drug use.
“It’s impossible because he’s never given me any,” Clemens said.
Clemens’ radio appearance returns him to the spotlight as other stars had replaced him as the most visible reminders of baseball’s drug scandal. Alex Rodriguez admitted before the season that he had used steroids, and Manny Ramirez was suspended last week for violating MLB’s drug policy.
Clemens said he had not followed either situation closely. The Ramirez case proved “the testing program we have set up in Major League Baseball is great,” he said.