Saturday, February 9, 2008
Radomski: 'I believe Brian is telling the truth'
By Mike Fish ESPN.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Kirk Radomski, the former New York Mets clubhouse attendant, doesn't have a smoking needle. He never witnessed Roger Clemens being injected with steroids. Nor did he ask Brian McNamee, Clemens' former personal trainer, what he did with the performance-enhancing drugs Radomski supplied him.
But with the seven-time Cy Young Award winner and McNamee primed for a showdown on Capitol Hill on Wednesday and engaged in a vicious he-said, he-said battle over McNamee's allegations that Clemens used the drugs, Radomski strongly believes that McNamee is telling the truth.
"I'm defending Brian, that is right," Radomski told ESPN.com. "I believe him over Clemens and his lawyers. I think he is very believable. He was a cop. He knows the consequences of lying. He has more to lose than to gain by lying."
Federal investigators learned through Radomski, who was sentenced to probation Friday for his role in distributing steroids to major league players, that McNamee was one of his steroids customers and a possible subdistributor. McNamee later told investigators he injected Clemens at least 16 times with steroids and human growth hormone. Clemens and his legal team have aggressively denied the allegations.
Kirk Radomski, right, former assistant equipment manager for the Mets, unpacks the team's uniforms at spring training in this Feb. 17, 1989 file photo.
Radomski told ESPN.com that he often obtained the growth hormone from AIDS patients looking to sell a monthly supply of it for upwards of $1,600. He said they sought out bodybuilders such as himself in gyms or on the street.
He said he met McNamee, who like himself lived in the New York area, through a ballplayer. They occasionally met for lunch or pumped iron together. He also trained some of McNamee's clients, mostly business types looking to stay fit.
Radomski worked for the Mets from 1985 to 1995, then became a personal trainer. He claims he didn't begin finding steroids for players until after he left the club.
He said he has not spoken to McNamee since his own legal troubles began.
Radomski said he knew the performance-enhancing drugs sold to McNamee were intended for his baseball-playing clients, but he didn't inquire about their identities.
"I knew who his guys were, but I never asked questions," Radomski said. "I didn't want to know. Can I assume? I can assume anything, but that is not my deal. He could have took the stuff and threw it out the window -- what do I know? But if Brian is saying this stuff [about injecting Clemens and pitcher Andy Pettitte], then I have to take Brian for his word."
Pettitte, a longtime friend and teammate of Clemens, has confirmed McNamee's account of receiving HGH injections. The pitchers share the same agent, but Pettitte has been positioned to potentially damage Clemens' cause in a deposition given to congressional lawyers last week and when he's put under oath before Congress on Wednesday.
"This [Pettitte] is supposed to be a God-fearing man," Radomski said. "I want to see what he says."
But in his own discussions with McNamee about doping regimens, Radomski doesn't recall McNamee speaking of Clemens or other specific players.
"Basically, he'd ask me how pitchers and position players should use different things," Radomski said. "Or himself, when he had surgery and he wanted to heal. Because he has to train people, he has to be out there at all times."
McNamee put himself in Clemens' crosshairs when he signed a proffer agreement with federal prosecutors, stipulating that he could not be charged with steroid distribution as long as everything he told the prosecutors was truthful. He also was asked to cooperate with the baseball-commissioned steroids investigation led by former Sen. George Mitchell, which made public McNamee's claim that he injected Clemens with steroids and growth hormone in 1998, 2000 and 2001.
"Clemens' people want to portray [McNamee] as some lunatic," said Radomski, who described McNamee as a friend. "He is not. That is the wrong move. I cannot see guys like the U.S. attorneys office out here not believing him and putting so much [trust in him]. If they weren't sure, they wouldn't do what they have done. They are very thorough, very credible people."
Radomski said he has never been contacted by Clemens' attorney, Rusty Hardin, who has recently borrowed a page from the book of the Barry Bonds legal team in suggesting that the government's lead investigator, IRS special agent Jeff Novitzky, has a vendetta against his client. And he didn't expect a call, he said, considering his cooperation with the government and the invitation to appear Wednesday before the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
"I don't know what they are thinking," Radomski said of Clemens' legal team. "I am only out there looking out for Brian. That is my only concern. I trust Brian and I believe Brian is telling the truth. Unless there is evidence to show he is not, I got to go with my friend. I have no doubt. If he lies, he is in a lot more trouble than just perjury. He opened himself up to so many other counts it is not funny. So why would he do what he is doing?"
The Clemens camp has asked the same question of McNamee.
But clearly, the loser in this very personal, much-anticipated truth test could pay a painful price. McNamee is on the hook for statements he provided federal investigators, as well as past transgressions that were erased because he agreed to cooperate. Clemens' reputation and possibly his place in the Hall of Fame are in jeopardy, and he could face perjury charges if he's found to have lied before Congress.
"That is perjury," Radomski said. "Brian is also looking at other charges they could bring. Perjury is perjury. You get a couple counts of perjury and knock it down, OK. What is [McNamee] facing? It's distribution, possession, lying to the government. Brian is looking at a lot more time than anyone else. Weigh what he is looking at and what Clemens is. That is the way I look at it."
Radomski also said he's been influenced by the way in which some of the pro athletes he knows disavowed their relationships with him when his troubles began. Only David Segui called him, he said. Others kept their distance. Some, he said, such as Lenny Dykstra and Fernando Vina, initially either denied knowing him or denied that they'd written checks to him for drugs.
He still doesn't know who turned him in to federal agents, but he believes it was players.
Radomski said he wonders about the silence displayed by personal trainer Greg Anderson when he has been questioned about Bonds, and its relationship to the ongoing Clemens-McNamee dispute.
"I think it is money," Radomski said, speculating on why Anderson hasn't spoken about Bonds. "And you know what? If that is the case, that is fine with me. He made that decision. And Bonds did the right thing there. Then Bonds ain't that bad of a guy. And he's a smart guy, at least. And he looked out for his guy.
"Why didn't Roger do that to Brian, then? You want to protect people. You want to be their friend, but friendship also has to go both ways. I guess Bonds understood that."
Mike Fish is an investigative reporter for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.