Roger Clemens’s chief accuser told a former client that the star pitcher used performance-enhancing drugs to recuperate and “push himself to the limit,” according to court testimony Tuesday.
A former client of Clemens’s strength coach told jurors in the baseball legend’s perjury trial that Brian McNamee also kept syringes from injections he allegedly gave professional ballplayers to protect himself from possible prosecution.
“I’m not going to get thrown under the bus, so I’ve taken care of it,” the witness, Anthony Corso, said McNamee told him.
During a workout in 2002 or 2003, McNamee first told Corso that human growth hormone or HGH had helped athletes like Clemens recover.
“He said it was the kind of medication that would allow the athletes to continue working out as they were getting older and breaking down,” Corso told jurors. “McNamee mentioned that Clemens was one of the athletes he was getting positive results from.”
Defense attorneys had tried to block Corso, a financial consultant, from testifying about his conversations with McNamee. But U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton allowed prosecutors to question Corso Tuesday to try to back up the strength coach’s testimony.
McNamee is the only witness with firsthand knowledge of Clemens’s alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs. The baseball star is charged with perjury, making false statements and obstruction of Congress for denying to a House panel in 2008 that he ever used steroids or HGH.
Under cross-examination, defense attorney Rusty Hardin zeroed in on Corso’s description of the increasingly rocky relationship between McNamee and Clemens. Corso said the relationship deteriorated because of late payments and McNamee's unpredictable work schedule that put a strain on his family life.
Hardin expressed frustration with Corso during a break in the testimony, telling Walton, “He’s refusing to say as much as he’s said before. He’s not testifying fully.”
And the exchange between Corso and Hardin was testy at times.
“What happened to allowing me to finish?” Corso said when Hardin interrupted him.
“Say whatever you want, Mr. Corso,” Hardin responded.
McNamee worked out with Corso almost daily for several years and suggested that HGH would help with his back and knee problems. When news reports surfaced in 2005 about another trainer to a major league ballplayer getting in legal trouble for his involvement with performance-enhancing drugs, Corso said McNamee told him not to worry. At that time, McNamee told Corso that he’d saved syringes from injections. Corso testified Tuesday that McNamee never mentioned Clemens’s name in connection with the syringes despite earlier telling the grand jury that the medical waste was from Clemens.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Durham tried to undo any suggestion by Hardin that Corso was biased against Clemens. Corso said he was reluctant to testify in part because he did not want to admit publicly that he had used HGH without a doctor’s prescription.
The trial, now in its seventh week, officially lost another juror Tuesday whose mother passed away last week. That leaves 12 jurors and just one alternate. Two other jurors were dismissed earlier in the trial for sleeping, and the judge has repeatedly chastised prosecutors and defense attorneys for unnecessarily lengthy questioning.Clemens’s defense team is expected to call its first witnesses Tuesday afternoon