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David J. Phillip/AP
Roger Clemens

DNA Sample Could Mean Perjury Charges for Clemens

November 26, 2008 03:57 PM
by Denis Cummings
Federal investigators reportedly asked Roger Clemens’ former trainer for a DNA sample, suggesting that there may be evidence for a perjury case against Clemens.

McNamee Asked for DNA Sample

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Both The New York Times and Daily News reported Monday that federal investigators asked Brian McNamee and his three lawyers for DNA samples in August. The samples would be used to compare with DNA results taken from syringes, needles and gauze pads that McNamee used while allegedly injecting pitcher Roger Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs in 2000 and 2001.

McNamee handed over the “blood-stained medical waste” in January, shortly before he and Clemens testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Clemens testified that he never used performance-enhancing drugs, but McNamee’s lawyers said that tests would reveal Clemens’ DNA on the items and prove that McNamee had injected him with steroids.

The committee recommended that the Justice Department open an investigation into whether Clemens committed perjury by denying performance-enhancing drug use. They have yet to bring charges against Clemens, but they may be closing in on the evidence they need for an indictment.

The investigators’ decision to ask McNamee for DNA samples indicates that they were able to obtain readable DNA on the needles and syringes. McNamee and his lawyers were asked for samples because they handled the items before handing them over, but it is Clemens’ DNA that is significant to the case. It is unknown if investigators have asked Clemens for a DNA sample.

“If forensic specialists are able to find Clemens’ DNA or fingerprints on materials with human growth hormone or steroids,” writes the Daily News, “they may have a smoking gun in their criminal investigation.”

Even then, Clemens would have a strong defense that McNamee tampered with the evidence or that it is too old to be reliable. “According to forensic experts, it is fairly easy to plant a person’s DNA on an object they have not touched,” writes the Times.

Still, Sports Illustrated legal expert Michael McCann writes, “a DNA match would be a big blow to Clemens. Bottom line: This latest news, if accurately reported, is not good for Clemens.”

Background: Clemens’ legal troubles

Clemens’ troubles began on Dec. 13, 2007, when former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell released his report on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. McNamee was a key witness in the report, telling investigators that he injected Clemens, along with Yankee teammates Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch, with PEDs in 1998, 2000 and 2001.

After the report came out, Pettitte and Knoblauch confirmed McNamee’s account. Clemens, however, vehemently denied the allegations and attacked McNamee’s character, filing a defamation suit against him. In early January, McNamee gave federal prosecutors a collection of syringes, needles and gauze pads that were used for injections in 2000 and 2001. He had kept the items from Mitchell Report investigators, but decided to give them to federal investigators after Clemens disparaged him in the media.

Clemens and McNamee were called to appear before Congress on Feb. 13, 2008. At the hearing, both men were heavily criticized by members of Congress. Clemens remained defiant in his denial of drug use; “I have never taken steroids or HGH,” he testified.

The committee decided that there was evidence to suggest that Clemens lied when he denied using steroids or HGH. Following the hearing, it advised the Justice Department to open an investigation to determine if Clemens perjured himself. The case has remained largely quiet since, but the report of DNA samples has brought it back into the public eye.

Related Topic: Barry Bonds perjury case

Former Giants slugger Barry Bonds is currently facing perjury charges for allegedly lying about performance-enhancing drug use during grand jury testimony in 2003.

On Monday, a district court judge dropped three counts against him and merged two; the decision was largely procedural and has little effect on the strength of the case. Bonds will stand trial for the remaining 10 counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice beginning March 2 in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California.
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