Pettitte’s testimony is considered key to the government’s case that “The Rocket” lied to Congress in 2008 when he denied ever having taken steroids or Human Growth Hormone (HGH). As he previously told congressional investigators, Pettitte testified in the District’s federal court that Clemens told him in 1999 or 2000 that he had used HGH to help him recover from injuries and intense workouts.
“Roger had mentioned to me that he’d taken HGH and that it could help with recovery,” Pettitte testified, describing a conversation that took place at Clemens’s home gym during an intense workout.
Pettitte would later admit that a few years later he also tried HGH to help him heal from elbow injuries — acts he told jurors he deeply regretted.
“If I never would have done it, I wouldn’t be here today,” he said. The appearance marked the first time the 39-year-old Texan had seen Clemens in several years because they were told not to speak during the long-running criminal investigation.
“Is it difficult to be here?” asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Durham.
“Because he’s a good friend,” Pettitte replied.
Even so, Pettitte testified about another conversation he had with Clemens about performance-enhancing drugs in the kitchen of a Houston Astros training facility in 2005.
It was a year after Pettitte had last used HGH and steroids were in the news. Pettitte, worried that reporters might query him about his use of performance-enhancing drugs, asked Clemens what he would say if questioned about his own drug use.
“What are you talking about?” Pettitte said Clemens replied.
When Pettitte said he pressed for more information, Clemens denied having taken the drugs: “I told you that my wife Debbie used it.”
Prosecutors believe that that conversation shows that Clemens was creating a cover story to deflect suspicions about having taking HGH. His wife, in fact, had taken the same substance in preparation for a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue photo shoot.
Pettitte, a star pitcher in his own right, retired in 2010 from the Astros but is making a comeback with the New York Yankees this season.
The hard-throwing lefty testified that Clemens, 10 years his elder, was one of his boyhood heroes. Pettitte and Clemens would later pitch with each other on the Yankees and Astros and become extremely close off the field — playing golf and working out together, often with their strength coach, Brian McNamee. It was McNamee whom prosecutors allege injected Clemens with steroids and HGH in 1998, 2000 and 2001.