Fed: Roger Clemens wasn't a target

Updated: May 7, 2012, 8:04 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

WASHINGTON -- Federal agent Jeff Novitzky testified Monday that Roger Clemens was not a target when Novitzky began questioning Clemens' former strength coach, Brian McNamee, about performance-enhancing drugs.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Clemens' lawyers sought to strike the testimony of former teammate Andy Pettitte.

Also on Monday, a short clip from Mike Wallace's "60 Minutes" interview with Clemens in 2008 provided just enough ambiguity for the judge to rule it out, hurting the government's hopes of proving one piece of its case against the 11-time All-Star pitcher.

Under government re-direct questioning, Novitzky said that Clemens wasn't the only athlete Novitzky asked McNamee about. Novitzky, now an agent with the Food and Drug Administration, said that McNamee talked to him about a dozen professional athletes using performance-enhancing drugs.

Was Clemens ever a target? asked prosecutor Steven Durham.

"No, he was never," Novitzky responded. "We never targeted the end user of these drugs."

Last week, under cross-examination, Clemens' lawyer asked Novitzky if it was his intent to have someone file charges against the pitcher. Novitzky, who had been an agent with the Internal Revenue Service when he met with McNamee in 2007 and 2008, said no.

Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is accused of lying to Congress in 2008 when he denied using human growth hormone and steroids.

McNamee cooperated with former Sen. George Mitchell, who was investigating performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, and Mitchell eventually identified Clemens as a user in his report to Major League Baseball. Asked why he encouraged McNamee's cooperation, Novitzky said, "we saw there was issue with performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball" and that kids were starting to emulate the players.

"We thought it was a good idea for Brian McNamee to cooperate with Mitchell," he said, adding he didn't know what was going to be in the report, including whether Mitchell would name names.

Last week, Novitzky described the physical evidence he had collected from McNamee. Prosecutors will try to prove the evidence shows the former pitcher used steroids and HGH. Clemens' lawyers have said they will contend that the evidence has been tainted and contaminated.

Also last week, Pettitte had testified that Clemens told him he had tried HGH, only to say under cross-examination that he might have misunderstood Clemens. As expected, Clemens' lawyers filed a motion asking that the jury not be allowed to consider the conversation between the two pitchers.

Pettitte said that it was "fair" to say that there was a 50 percent chance he misunderstood Clemens, his friend and one-time mentor.

"The court should not allow the jury to consider an alleged 'admission' that has all the weight of a coin flip," Clemens' lawyers wrote in a filing Monday morning, before the resumption of the trial.

McNamee is expected to testify this week, perhaps as early as Tuesday.

Prosecutors got off to a rough start Monday, when U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton told them they could not play a clip of a 2008 Clemens' "60 Minutes" interview for the jury. In the clip, Clemens says he was advised by counsel not to talk to former Sen. Mitchell.

After the interview aired, Clemens testified to Congress that he didn't know that Mitchell wanted to talk to him. Prosecutors wanted to show the "60 Minutes" clip in an attempt to show Clemens was obstructing Congress, arguing the two statements were contradictory. But Walton said the clip could not be played without interfering with the attorney-client privilege. He also said it was possible Clemens was told generally by lawyers not to talk to Mitchell, without actually informing the pitcher that Mitchell wanted to talk to him.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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