Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Truth or Consequences

The Roger Clemens case has serious implications but at the core it is simple to figure out. It comes down to how you answer one question: Who do you believe? Roger Clemens has testified under oath that he never took steroids or human growth hormone; his former trainer, Brian McNamee, has testified under oath that he personally injected Clemens with those substances. Point blank, someone is lying--and if it can ever be proven beyond a reasonable doubt who is lying then that person should absolutely go to jail. If Clemens is lying then he broke federal law, violated the spirit of fair competition and contributed to a climate of cheating that set a terrible example for literally millions of young fans who look up to him. If McNamee is lying then he is guilty of slandering the good name of a sports icon who established himself as perhaps the greatest pitcher of the modern era.

Before Clemens and McNamee testified under oath last week to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, committee chairman Henry Waxman declared, "...We have found conflicts and inconsistencies in Mr. Clemens' account. During his deposition, he made statements that we know are untrue...In other areas, his statements are contradicted by other credible witnesses or are simply implausible." This case has already produced hours and hours of televised testimony and reams of affidavits and quotes but when you break everything down here is what we know for sure: Roger Clemens' wife and his teammates Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch received human growth hormone from McNamee. How likely is it that so many people who are so close to Clemens were taking HGH under the direction of Clemens' trainer and that Clemens not only did not take HGH but was not even aware that these people were using it? Most of the rest of the stuff that is being argued about is just a sideshow. Again, the important question is simple: Do you believe that Clemens did not know that his wife and best friend received HGH from his personal trainer and that despite their usage of this substance that he never tried it?

The American public has already seen great athletes look into the collective eyes of the nation and deliver bold faced lies. Pete Rose swore that he never bet on baseball. Marion Jones angrily denied ever taking performance-enhancing drugs. Clemens' defiant denials are quite predictable and prove nothing; it is much more significant that his story is riddled with inconsistencies. Wouldn't the patty cake session that Clemens had with Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes have been a good time to mention his wife's HGH use? It is obvious that Clemens thought that this would never come to light, so he did not bring it up. Clemens' defense has been riddled with arrogant missteps; it was only after he played the tape of his phone conversation with McNamee for a national television audience that McNamee countered by revealing that he had physical evidence of Clemens' use and that Clemens' wife also used HGH.

McNamee's credibility as a witness is certainly not impeccable--but he has been offered immunity from prosecution if and only if he tells the truth. What possible motivation would he have to lie about Roger Clemens and thereby incur the wrath of the Rocket and his army of attorneys? Pettitte and Knoblauch have already admitted that McNamee told the truth about their HGH use. Why would McNamee tell the truth about Pettitte and Knoblauch and then throw into the mix wild lies about Clemens? It would certainly have been easier for McNamee to not mention Clemens' name at all--but if he did that and then evidence of Clemens' PED use came to light then McNamee would go to jail.

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