Saturday, December 22, 2007

QUEENS MAN PLAYED ROLE IN STEROID SCANDAL

Steroid exposé points to Queens
By Dylan Butler and Marc Raimondi
12/20/2007
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Key witnesses had SJU, Mets ties
SJU alum from Rockaways drops Clemens bombshell
By Dylan Butler (Times Ledger)
QUEENS PLAYS CENTRAL ROLE IN STEROID PROBE

Before he was known the world over as the man who testified in the Mitchell Report that superstar pitchers Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte took performance-enhancing drugs, Brian McNamee was a standout catcher at Archbishop Molloy HS and St. John’s University, who would follow in his father’s footsteps and become a New York City police officer. That’s the Brian McNamee that Jack Curran remembers. “He played with high energy, he was upbeat,” said the longtime Molloy baseball coach. “He was a real take-charge catcher.”McNamee, a Breezy Point native, played college baseball at St. John’s University from 1986 through 1989 and majored in sports management. “I watched him play in high school and play at St. John’s and he played aggressively,” said St. John’s coach Ed Blankmeyer, who was an assistant coach at Seton Hall at the time. “He played hard and he played with passion. He played the game the right way.”

After college, McNamee joined the NYPD, working his final two years there as an undercover detective before leaving the police force in 1993. He met a fellow St. John’s alum, Tim McCleary, who was the assistant general manager of the New York Yankees, and McNamee was offered a job as the team’s bullpen catcher and batting practice pitcher. McNamee followed McCleary to Toronto, where McCleary was named the Blue Jays assistant general manager in 1997. One year later, McNamee was hired as Toronto’s strength and conditioning coach.

That is where McNamee first met Clemens, who was in his second year with the Blue Jays after 10 stellar seasons with the rival Boston Red Sox. According to McNamee’s testimony to Mitchell’s investigators, Clemens first asked about steroids in June 1998 and later that summer, McNamee said he first injected the seven-time Cy Young Award winner with steroids. Clemens was traded to the Yankees a year later, and McNamee would soon follow, hired as the Yankees assistant strength and conditioning coach at Clemens’ behest, according to the Mitchell Report.

McNamee, who also served as Clemens and Pettitte’s personal trainer, testified that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone in the 2000 and 2001 seasons. Through a statement released by his agent, Clemens denied taking steroids.“I want to state clearly and without qualification: I did not take steroids, human growth hormone or any other banned substances at any time in my baseball career or, in fact, my entire life,” Clemens said. “Those substances represent a dangerous and destructive shortcut that no athlete should ever take.”

Also in 2001, McNamee was a suspect in a sexual battery case at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg, Fla., where the Yankees stayed during a series with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. According to the New York Post, a hotel employee saw McNamee and the unidentified 40-year-old woman, both of whom were naked, engaging in what appeared to be sex while another man, also naked, stood off to the side. The woman was taken to an area hospital where it was determined that she had been given heavy doses of gamma hydroxybutyrate, commonly known as the date rape drug, the Post said. McNamee was never charged in the case, but was dismissed from the Yankees at the end of the 2001 season.

After saying he initially tried to talk Pettitte out of it, McNamee also injected Pettitte with HGH in 2002, when the star lefty was rehabbing from elbow tendinitis, according to the Mitchell Report.“In 2002 I was injured. I had heard that human growth hormone could promote faster healing for my elbow,” Pettitte said in a statement. “I felt an obligation to get back to my team as soon as possible. For this reason, and only this reason, for two days I tried human growth hormone.”McNamee’s longtime friend C.J. Nitkowski, a former Red Storm standout and Major Leaguer who is currently pitching in Japan, told the TimesLedger that McNamee is not the steroid pusher the trainer is being painted in published reports throughout the country. “From my experience with him he never pushed or encouraged,” Nitkowski said. “Had I chosen to do it, he would have supported me and made sure I was doing it right.

He believes in his program and believes that the over-the-counter supplements along with the workout program he devised should be enough.”Nitkowski, a 34-year-old from Suffern, N.Y., first met McNamee when the reliever was pitching for the Tigers in 1995. Nitkowski, who had a 10-year career in the Majors pitching for both the Mets and Yankees, also worked out with both Clemens and Pettitte at Clemens’ Houston home on several occasions from 2002 to 2006.

Following the 2001 season, Nitkowski said he asked McNamee about Winstrol, a steroid McNamee used to inject Clemens, according to the Mitchell Report. “He definitely didn’t talk me into it,” Nitkowski said. “I was at a point where I just needed one little push and I would have done it. He didn’t give that push.”In 2005, McNamee was hired by St. John’s University as an adjunct professor and taught sports management classes. He had no involvement with the school’s baseball team because, according to Blankmeyer, there was no room on his staff. And in September 2006 he was let go following the conclusion of his contract. “He was pretty approachable and big on helping students further their careers,”said a former student of McNamee’s, who requested anonymity. “I was rooting that all this wasn’t true.”
©Times Ledger 2007
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