By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Scientific tests have linked Roger Clemens's DNA to blood in syringes that a personal trainer says he used to inject the former star pitcher with performance-enhancing drugs, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.
The DNA results, which are preliminary and subject to verification tests, could prove critical if prosecutors seek an indictment of Clemens on charges that he lied about the use of steroids, according to the sources.
Clemens told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last year that he has never taken performance-enhancing drugs. Testifying at the same hearing, the pitcher's former personal trainer, Brian McNamee, said he injected Clemens nearly 40 times with steroids and human growth hormone from 1998 to 2001.
McNamee's attorneys have said their client gave federal investigators syringes, gauze pads and other items that he claimed he used to inject Clemens. He stored the items in a FedEx box in his basement.
Clemens and his defense team have long challenged McNamee's credibility, saying the former trainer has lied about the pitcher's alleged drug use. They also have said that McNamee may have cooked up the evidence.
Yesterday, Rusty Hardin, Clemens's Houston-based defense attorney, said the DNA tests "won't matter at all."
"It will still be evidence fabricated by McNamee," Hardin said. "I would be dumbfounded if any responsible person ever found this to be reliable or credible evidence in any way."
Clemens voluntarily gave a DNA sample to federal authorities, who are conducting the genetic tests, the sources said.
Legal experts said DNA evidence could prove to be a critical tool for prosecutors at trial. "The fact that it's DNA evidence gives it a certain extra mystique with the jury," said Stevan Bunnell, a former federal prosecutor.
Still, the DNA results are only part of the equation. Scientists at the Anti-Doping Research Institute in Los Angeles, who were brought onto the case by authorities, are trying to determine whether the syringes ever contained steroids and human growth hormone, the sources said.
Clemens has said he was injected with vitamin B-12 and a painkiller over the years. Without any evidence of steroids or human growth hormone in the syringes, prosecutors will face a tougher time convincing jurors that Clemens was injected with those substances, legal experts said.
However, if authorities "are able to prove [that steroids] were in the syringes, it will be a much more significant problem for Clemens," said Randall Eliason, a former federal prosecutor.
The disclosure of the test results comes as federal agents and prosecutors appear to have stepped up their investigation of the seven-time Cy Young Award winner who pitched for the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros.
In the last month, a federal grand jury has heard testimony from a clubhouse attendant, Kirk Radomski, who supplied McNamee with the performance-enhancing drugs.
McNamee and his attorneys met in Washington with federal prosecutors and investigators for five hours last month to discuss the case. Federal agents also have questioned several other people, including at least one former major leaguer and a Texas gym owner, about Clemens and steroids, according to media reports.
Federal prosecutors were asked to investigate whether Clemens lied under oath by the House committee two weeks after his testimony on Feb. 13. The existence of a grand jury investigation became public last month, and sources have said that prosecutors are not likely to make any decision about seeking charges for a few months.
Researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.