Focus on drug vials in Roger Clemens trial

WASHINGTON -- The attorney for Roger Clemens sought to cast doubt Thursday on the origins of the syringes, vials and cotton swabs that prosecutors say trainer Brian McNamee saved after injecting the former Yankees star with performance-enhancing drugs in 2001.

Clemens attorney Rusty Hardin argued during his cross-examination of federal agent Jeff Novitzky that no one besides McNamee knows how the physical evidence was stored before it was turned over to Novitzky in January 2008.

"It all depends on the believability of Mr. McNamee," Hardin said.

McNamee, of Long Beach, who has said he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone in 1998, 2000 and 2001, is expected to take the witness stand Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Durham said. Clemens is facing perjury, false statements and obstruction of Congress charges related to his denial at a congressional hearing four years ago of performance-enhancing drug use.

Novitzky, a special agent with the Food and Drug Administration, testified Thursday about the intricate step-by-step measures he took to "preserve the integrity" of the evidence after receiving it during a meeting at McNamee's lawyer's Manhattan office four years ago.

Hardin countered that Novitzky had no "personal knowledge on how that evidence was created," sparking a battle of semantics between the two. Novitzky said the lab tests that tested positive for Clemens' DNA gave him the personal knowledge Hardin was asking about.

Following an increasingly tense back-and-forth, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton broke in, asking Novitzky whether he had any direct knowledge about the state or whereabouts of the evidence before he learned of it in January 2008. "No," Novitzky said.

The evidence Hardin referred to during his opening statement as "the most mixed-up hodgepodge of garbage you could ever imagine" -- a collection of syringes, vials and bloodstained cotton swabs -- was on display earlier Thursday.

Novitzky testified that he first learned of McNamee's name sometime in 2005 from "approximately four checks" that were deposited into the bank account of Kirk Radom-ski, whom Novitzky at the time was monitoring as a suspected steroid dealer.

Novitzky said Radomski admitted following the execution of a search warrant on his Manorville home in December 2005 that the checks from McNamee were for performance-enhancing drugs.

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