Roger steroid-free in T.O.

JOE WARMINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:57 PM ET

Much of the reputation of the game of baseball and of one of its all-time great players is resting on the word of a man whose background is shrouded in unusual claims, strange relationships and at least one criminal investigation involving illegal drugs and an alleged sexual assault.

In fact, spend just one day looking into Brian McNamee's past and you'll find quite a history -- including his time here where sources say he was not always comfortable with his close relationship with the senior management person who brought him into the Blue Jays organization.

"I hope baseball is not putting all of its case on this one witness because in my 32 years as an investigator, I would not find him to be very credible," Florida state attorney office investigator Don Crotty said yesterday.

Crotty has some insight into the man since he investigated him in an alleged date-rape case and concluded, "He was not truthful with me."

Seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens has denied McNamee's claims to the Sen. George Mitchell Report into steroids in baseball that he injected the former Jays hurler with steroids in 1998 while they were in Toronto, and with steroids and human growth hormones in 2000 and 2001 in New York.

Clemens has also filed a lawsuit against McNamee, with whom he had an awkward taped conversation where Clemens said, "I am looking for someone to tell the truth."

If the Mitchell Report authors were to interview some Blue Jays personnel about their feeling on whether or not the legendary Clemens was involved in steroid use or the injection of human growth hormones while here, they would find people saying they don't believe he was.

"A lot of Blue Jays staffers back then were shocked by it and don't believe it," said one insider.

One of them, who is sure he would have noticed, is still the team's chiropractor.

"I worked with him daily and didn't see any signs of steroid use," Dr. Patrick Graham told The Sun yesterday. "I didn't notice any rashes, acne or increased muscle mass or structure."

Several Blue Jays sources yesterday also indicated that "Roger looked exactly the same the whole time he was in Toronto."

As the team's chiropractor, Graham got to see him up close and personal, and said yesterday he "believes" Clemens claim he did not partake in steroids -- at least while in Toronto.

"I think I would have seen signs of it," he said, adding he always thought the Rocket's success in Toronto was because of his newly developed "split-fingered fastball."

Even after Clemens left the Jays organization, he would come in for a back treatment whenever in Toronto and Graham said he observed no body changes. "I haven't seen him for two years, but I just don't think he was on steroids."

Professional trainer Phil Zullo, of North York's Pro-Fit, agrees -- saying if Clemens took the amount of steroids and the type McNamee alleges in the report, he would have ended up looking like Hulk Hogan. "With the way Roger works out and trains, he would have been a giant," said Zullo, who did not work with Clemens but has always been known to be against the use of any substances for the amateur and professional athletes he trains.

In his North York studio yesterday he had in North York Rangers hockey player Andrew Wright and Ontario Ski Team member Cameron Day, both 18, and said they are examples of kids doing it clean and an example of why professionals shouldn't cheat.

"Who knows the truth about Roger, but I am sure his body type would have changed more than it appears to have," Zullo said. "I tend to believe Roger."

Credible or not, former Toronto Blue Jays trainer McNamee has a lot of people on the hot seat early in 2008 -- namely former Blue Jays Cy Young winner Clemens, along with others.

Crotty, who was then a detective with St. Petersburg Police, had McNamee on the hot seat himself back after a reported incident in a hotel swimming pool in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 2001.

"It all started after a party up in Yankees' player Chuck Knoblauch's room," he said.

The case Crotty was working on involved the complaint of a semi-conscious naked woman in a swimming pool who was believed to have been slipped the date-rape drug. "We had the bottle it was in tested and it came back as GHB," Crotty said. "Same goes for what was found in her system -- GHB."

Crotty said his plan was to move ahead with criminal charges. "Oh, yeah, it was a decent case," he said.

But the prosecution decided not to move forward with it -- feeling the victim's testimony may not hold up. Some media reports indicated she was unwilling to pursue the case since she had relations with a married member of the Yankees organization.

Although implicated in the incident, McNamee was never charged. Whatever happened there, as far as Crotty is concerned, was a case of somebody unknowingly being plied with a substance that can render you unconscious.

There's no evidence of who put the GHB in the woman's drink.

"It can put you out if mixed with alcohol," he said of GHB. "It is the same stuff sometimes used by body builders."

He said although Clemens was not part of this investigation "he and the Yankees organization would have been well aware of it."

McNamee, who was later sued for non-payment by the law firm that represented him, quietly left the Yankees organization shortly after but continued to work privately with Clemens and Andy Pettitte, who has acknowledged using steroids.

Attempts to reach McNamee through his lawyer were unsuccessful.

This case is one of several strange events surrounding McNamee's life and career.

Days after the release of the Mitchell report last year, ESPN.com's Shaun Assael, Luke Cyphers and Amy K. Nelson compiled a profile on McNamee's life which showed a personal trainer "a working man content to earn his living in the shadows of stars."

It was those relationships, with players like Clemens, Knoblauch and Pettitte, that he was able to give information on how to avoid jail time for being involved with the distribution of illegal drugs.

The ESPN report also deals with "McNamee referring to himself as Dr. McNamee." An investigation showed his doctorate earned at Columbus University in Louisiana is now Columbus out of Mississippi, since Louisiana closed its operation in 2001 for handing out degrees to many who did "little or no academic work."

Clemens has been quoted saying he thought McNamee had a medical degree.

McNamee, the son of a cop from Queens, New York, was himself a NYPD officer from 1990 to 1993, just after playing college baseball. ESPN.com quoted a former fellow officer calling McNamee a "super cop" who claimed to have made numerous arrests and was involved in the investigation of the tragic apartment building death of music legend Eric Clapton's young son.

But the ESPN study also found the NYPD handed McNamee a 30-day suspension after a prisoner escaped from custody.

After leaving the force in 1993 he landed back in baseball as a bullpen catcher, thanks to a college friendship with Tim McCleary, who was with the Yankees at that time and later instrumental in bringing him to the Blue Jays.

Some staffers felt he was keeping an eye on things for his old college friend but for the most part "he kept his nose clean" and no one suspected anything untoward about McNamee. Graham said he saw McNamee around the team but never felt there was anything unusual going on.

But now, in exchange for not being charged, McNamee's testimony against these players is going to help the Mitchell Report people clean up baseball with the steroid era.

However, just who is this guy and how credible is he? With allegations of criminal investigations and alleged exaggerations, to go with denials from Clemens and no smoking gun to prove anything, could it lead to a house of cards crashing down?

In the words of former detective Crotty yesterday about the Mitchell Report and the veracity of their star witness: "I hope they have more than his statement."


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