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On Clemens vs. his ex-trainer

Of course, those contentions are that McNamee injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone 16 times in 1998, 2000 and 2001. The physical evidence that McNamee is said to have handed over to investigators are syringes and gauze pads with traces of Clemens' blood. Reportedly, McNamee produced the material about a month ago.

It's all vaguely reminiscent of Monica Lewinsky preserving Bill Clinton's DNA evidence on the infamous blue dress that helped prove the two had inappropriate moments together.

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It all seems the stuff of a CSI episode and there are some major unresolved questions before the public as a result of the syringe and pads revelation. Clemens has acknowledged that the trainer injected him with some substances, specifically vitamin B-12 and lidocaine. Neither presents a problem. So for the new evidence to be damning, one has to assume that the McNamee side believes it also indicates the associated presence of performance-enhancing drugs.

Even if it does, there are other questions about this material that reportedly is at least about seven years old.

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Can it be established that the evidence hasn't been tampered with or, as Clemens' side has said, "manufactured"?

How about the chain of custody? That's why police and investigators carefully document what happens to a piece of evidence from its discovery to its moment in court. There have been cases blown up over even a small interruption in the documented chain of custody. Here, we have evidence that has been in the hands of the accuser - and possibly others - for many years.

Also curious is the reported timing of McNamee surrendering the evidence in early January. Why withhold that evidence until after he apparently talked with Mitchell Report officials (the report came out in December). You would think that if the trainer had told former Sen. George Mitchell about the existence of blood traces on syringes, we would have all read about it in the report.

Perhaps not so coincidentally, the existence of the evidence was made public after Clemens talked to congressional staffers on Wednesday. Lying under deposition-like circumstances presents a legal problem in itself.

Meanwhile yesterday, McNamee was having his own sit-down with congressional staffers and Clemens was doing one-on-one visits with some members of Congress, including the Baltimore area's own Rep. Elijah Cummings.

The big show, meaning the public hearing featuring Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch, is still scheduled for Wednesday.

That will be entertaining, I'm sure. But as CSI's Gil Grissom would say, it's all about the evidence.

bill.ordine @baltsun.com


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