'Someone is lying'

KEN FIDLIN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:54 AM ET

It didn't degenerate into the Shootout at the OK Corral, but Clemens versus McNamee on Capitol Hill had its moments of heat, of passion and, yes, of absurdity.

And now that it is over, what is to make of this last (thankfully) foray by the Oversight Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives into the business of performance enhancing drugs in baseball?

Did Roger Clemens take steps toward clearing his name? Or, did he sink deeper into the abyss that could be not only the ruination of his career but as his life as an American icon?

He and Brian McNamee staged a high-stakes game of chicken, each sticking to his story. McNamee says he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone many times over a span of five years. Clemens says he has never used performance-enhancing drugs.

Who do you believe?

"Someone is lying in spectacular fashion," said Representative Tom Davis, a former chairman of this committee.

Because they have both offered diametrically opposed sworn testimony, it is quite likely that the Oversight Committee will refer the entire matter to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation. There were also six FBI agents in the meeting room yesterday. The FBI has the power to open its own investigation, even if the matter is not referred to Justice. If one man or the other is found to have perjured himself in these matters, he could spend years in jail.

After 41/2 hours of sworn testimony yesterday, it turned out the most credible voice in the argument wasn't even in the room. Andy Pettitte, Clemens' former teammate and workout partner, had been excused from testifying but his sworn affidavit was perhaps the most powerful bit of evidence introduced yesterday.

Pettitte testified that Clemens had told him "in 1999 or 2000" that he (Clemens) had used HGH. In another conversation between Pettitte and Clemens in 2005, Clemens told Pettitte he must have misunderstood and that he'd actually said that his wife (Debbie Clemens) had used HGH. Since Debbie used HGH only once, in 2003, the timeline is wrong for Pettitte to have misunderstood the 1999 conversation.

In many ways, Pettitte's testimony is poisonous for Clemens because Pettitte is so believable. He came clean about his own HGH use and probably could have gotten away with saying he didn't know whether Clemens used or not, especially in light of their ongoing friendship.

But he didn't take the easy way out. He said what he believes to be the truth.

"What possible reason would Mr. Pettitte have to fabricate a statement about you, his friend?" asked Representative Elijah Cummings.

"Andy would have no reason to," responded Clemens.

Exactly.

In a strange way, McNamee's history of lying seemed to make him more believable. At every interview session since he started being interrogated by federal authorities and then turned over to the Mitchell Committee and subsequently to the Oversight Committee, he has been making statements that were later found to be lies, or at least inaccuracies. In most cases his lies were intended to protect players.

But both Pettitte and former teammate Chuck Knoblauch have corroborated most of McNamee's story. Clemens, the only other player McNamee trained, has disputed every word yet McNamee sticks to his story, even with the threat of an indictment hanging over his head.

He has described to authorities that Clemens first asked him about steroids after a party at Jose Canseco's Miami home in 1998 when the Blue Jays were in that city for a series of games. McNamee says he saw Clemens and Canseco, an admitted juicer, in conversation at that party.

Clemens has denied being at the party and others, including Canseco himself, have agreed that Clemens didn't attend, choosing to play golf instead.

But under questioning by the committee, Clemens' former nanny said that not only did she attend the party with the children but that Debbie Clemens and the kids stayed overnight.

Then there was the bizarre tale of "the palpable mass" that appeared on Clemens' butt when he played for the Blue Jays. McNamee maintains that the boil on Clemens' backside was an adverse reaction to a shot of Winstrol, an anabolic steroid.

The time period also coincided with a vitamin B12 shot administered by Toronto team physician, Dr. Ron Taylor. When the boil appeared, the team had Clemens undergo an MRI to make sure there was no underlying injury.

The Oversight Committee had that MRI result analyzed by a Washington expert, Dr. Mark Murphy, who declared that the mass was "more compatible with a Winstrol injection" than one of vitamin B-12.

When it came time to sum things up, the unvarnished logic of Cummings, who had led things off four hours earlier, shone through the conflicting statements.

"If I walked in here," he said, addressing his remarks to Clemens, "and it was even-Steven between you and Mr. McNamee, I must admit that the person I believe most ... is Mr. Pettitte."

"I've listened to you very carefully. And I take you at your word ... But all I'm saying is, it's hard to believe your story."

At the end of the day, the only thing that is certain in this matter is that you haven't heard the last of it.


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