Clemens sues McNamee for defamation

Published 10:43 pm Tuesday, January 8, 2008

By By RONALD BLUM, AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK — Roger Clemens beat Brian McNamee to court, filing a defamation suit against the former trainer who claimed to have injected him with performance-enhancing drugs.
Clemens filed the suit Sunday night in Harris County District Court in Texas, listing 15 alleged statements McNamee made to the baseball drug investigator George Mitchell. Clemens claimed the statements were ‘‘untrue and defamatory.’’
Richard Emery, one of McNamee’s lawyers, said he would seek to remove the case to U.S. District Court in Houston, then to possibly shift it to federal court in Brooklyn.
The suit states that when McNamee told others that when he first was interviewed by federal law enforcement last June, he denied Clemens had used steroids or human growth hormone. The suit quotes McNamee as saying he was pressured by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella and IRS Special Agent Jeff Novitzky — key members of the BALCO prosecution — to implicate Clemens.
The suit did not attribute where the quote from McNamee was obtained.
The suit said that when McNamee initially refused a request from federal authorities that he speak to Mitchell, he was threatened with prosecution. Clemens said McNamee decided only then to cooperate with Mitchell, and the suit said McNamee told other the interview ‘‘was conducted like a Cold War-era interrogation in which a federal agent merely read to the Mitchell investigators McNamee’s previously obtained statement and then asked McNamee to confirm what he previously stated.’’
Clemens asked that damages be determined by a jury.
Emery said McNamee was threatened with prosecution for steroids distribution unless he told the truth. That, according to Emery, was when McNamee implicated Clemens.
The seven-time Cy Young Award winner, who was scheduled to hold a late afternoon news conference Monday in Houston, sounded indignant and defiant in a segment of CBS’s ‘‘60 Minutes’’ broadcast Sunday night, his first interview since McNamee accused him. The two are approaching a potential confrontation if they testify under oath at a Jan. 16 hearing on Capitol Hill.
The most prominent player implicated in last month’s Mitchell Report, Clemens steadfastly maintained his innocence and called McNamee’s allegations ‘‘totally false.’’
On Friday, when the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform invited Clemens and McNamee to testify, the pair spoke by telephone, an individual close to the situation said, speaking on condition of anonymity because public comments weren’t authorized. The conversation first was reported Sunday by Newsday.
The individual would not say what was discussed.
Clemens’ lawyer, Rusty Hardin, told the Houston Chronicle that it was McNamee who arranged to talk to Clemens on Friday but instead of getting back to Clemens the conversation was leaked ‘‘with spin’’ to Newsday.
During the ‘‘60 Minutes’’ segment, Clemens said he might be willing to take a lie-detector test and was ‘‘shocked’’ close friend Andy Pettitte used HGH. He said — again — that he probably will retire.
A fiery look in his eyes and stubble on his face, Clemens told CBS’s Mike Wallace that he would have spoken with Mitchell had he been aware of McNamee’s accusations.
One of the few revelations in the much-hyped interview came when Clemens was asked whether he conceivably would take a lie detector test.
After Monday’s news conference will come the congressional hearing. Pettitte, former Yankees teammate Chuck Knoblauch and former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski, who allegedly supplied McNamee with performance-enhancing drugs, also were asked to appear before the committee.
Lawyers for Clemens and McNamee have said their clients are willing to testify but Hardin wouldn’t commit to the date.
Emery said he wanted to hear testimony from Clemens.
Clemens said his lawyer advised him not to speak with Mitchell, who spent 20 months on his investigation.
Only two active players, Jason Giambi and Frank Thomas, spoke with Mitchell, a Boston Red Sox director and a former Senate majority leader.
In excerpts of the CBS interview that were released Thursday, Clemens said McNamee injected him with vitamin B-12 and the painkiller lidocaine. In the full 14-minute broadcast, Clemens also said he was given an injection of toradol under the supervision of the New York Yankees.
McNamee told Mitchell he injected Clemens with steroids and HGH about 16 to 21 times during 1998, 2000 and 2001 — before baseball players and owners agreed to ban performance-enhancing substances.
Eighth on the career list with 354 wins, the 45-year-old Clemens said he was angered McNamee’s accusations have been accepted as truth by some.
Clemens said the descriptions McNamee gave Mitchell of injections ‘‘never happened.’’