`Rocket' fires back

Clemens' attorney: Tape of call with trainer proves steroid accusations false

The Mitchell Report

January 08, 2008

HOUSTON -- "What do you want me to do?" Brian McNamee asked Roger Clemens again and again. Clemens never gave a clear answer.

A recording of Friday's 17-minute telephone call between Clemens' former trainer and the seven-time Cy Young Award winner was played at Clemens' long-awaited news conference yesterday, the first time he faced a group of reporters since McNamee's accusations were made public in the Mitchell Report on Dec. 13.

McNamee asked Clemens that question, or variations of it, 21 times while they were on the phone.

"What do you want me to do? I'll go to jail, I'll do whatever you want," McNamee said.

"I need somebody to tell the truth, Mac," Clemens told him.

Never, though, did Clemens angrily confront McNamee during the call nor did he accuse the trainer of lying when he told Mitchell he injected Clemens at least 16 times with steroids and human growth hormone in 1998, 2000 and 2001.

Asked why Clemens never directly answered the "what do you want me to do" question, his attorney, Rusty Hardin, said:

"The last thing Roger wanted, just as we did, was any suggestion that we were trying to interfere or coerce a federal witness. So, yeah, all he kept saying [was] nothing. Except you hear him throughout saying, `Tell the truth.' "

Under state law in New York and Texas, only one party has to give consent for a phone conversation to be taped.

Clemens' anger rising throughout the media session, his voice filling with more and more emotion, the 354-game winner abruptly walked out after fielding several questions from reporters.

"Do you think I played my career because I'm worried about the damn Hall of Fame?" he told a room filled with many potential voters. "You keep your vote. I don't need the Hall of Fame to justify that I put my butt on the line and I worked my tail off, and I defy anybody to say I did it by cheating or taking any shortcuts, OK?"

Hardin said the pitcher was willing to testify Jan. 16 to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. McNamee also has agreed, and the pair will have to repeat their assertions under oath on Capitol Hill.

Hardin said that because McNamee didn't deny Clemens' claims that he never used steroids, it amounted to proof that Clemens was telling the truth.

McNamee sounded distraught during the conversation.

"I'm in your corner," McNamee said. "I'd also like not to go to jail, too."

Clemens said McNamee initiated the conversation.

Late Sunday, Clemens filed a defamation suit against McNamee in Texas state court, another salvo in the escalating fight between the pair, who had worked together since they met while with the Toronto Blue Jays a decade ago.

On Sunday, McNamee told SI.com that Clemens was "in no way an abuser of steroids."

"He took them in late July, August, and never for more than four to six weeks max," he was quoted as saying. "Within the culture of what was going on, he was just a small part of it. A lot of guys did it. You can't take away the work Roger did."

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