A day after filing a lawsuit claiming that a book about steroid use in baseball defamed him and ruined his career, a Pasadena personal trainer is scheduled to appear Tuesday before a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., that is investigating whether Roger Clemens lied to a congressional committee during a hearing on the steroid scandal.
Attorneys for Kelly Blair insist he has little light to shed about Clemens' possible steroid use. They say he has no connection to the former star pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Houston Astros and never assisted in supplying him any illicit substances.
“Why the prosecutors are insisting on getting his testimony, I don't know, but he'll answer their questions to the best of his ability,” said attorney Jason Gibson, who filed a defamation lawsuit on Blair's behalf Monday in Harris County District Court. “He's repeatedly stated that he has no information about Clemens and steroids.”
Blair's lawsuit says the book American Icon: The Fall of Roger Clemens and the Rise of Steroids in America's Pastime made unfounded assertions that he supplied professional athletes with steroids and acted as a “pusher” in an underground steroid network.
“He understands this is a big important matter, but enough is enough,” Gibson said. “There's just a lot of things that are incorrect that were enough to push him over the edge and out of business. His reputation has been trashed.”
Blair owned a gym named 1-on-1 Elite Personal Fitness. The gym closed a few months after the book came out in 2008 because no one wanted to be associated with him anymore, Gibson said. Since then Blair has worked at any job he can find to make ends meet, he added.
Blair has acknowledged his own past steroid use, but has repeatedly denied promoting it or distributing it. In an interview with the Chronicle last year, he said he has spoken out against the use of so-called performance-enhancing drugs by athletes because he has seen firsthand some of the side effects.
“For everybody to have this opinion of me that's completely false, it hurts,” Blair said last year.
A spokesman for Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group could not be reached for comment. The authors are reporters and editors with the New York Daily News.
One of the named authors, Teri Thompson, said they could offer little comment on the lawsuit.
“We have not received the complaint, but we do stand by our reporting,” Thompson said via e-mail.
Gibson said the authors accepted the word of a disgruntled former employee of Blair's and were frustrated by Blair's unwillingness to speak with them.
“He gave a lot of interviews because he wanted his name cleared,” Gibson said. “But he never gave an interview to those guys because of the way they were acting, and this is the result of that. This book was published without any direct input from him.”
Houston criminal defense lawyer Chip Lewis said Monday that he also would accompany Blair to the grand jury proceeding. The panel is investigating whether Clemens made any false statements to Congress.
In February 2008 Clemens, who was linked to steroid use in baseball's Mitchell Report but has maintained he never took performance-enhancing drugs, appeared before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Several Congress members later said they wanted an investigation into whether Clemens lied when he denied taking any banned substances.
Perjury Case Possible
Possible federal charges for someone who lies to congressional investigators or to Congress are perjury, making a false statement to a public official or obstruction of justice. Perjury applies only to statements made under oath. Such federal charges generally carry top penalties of five years in prison.
Lewis said Blair is a witness in the case and he knows that a grand jury has already heard testimony from Brian McNamee, the New York-based trainer who says he administered steroids and human growth hormone to Clemens. McNamee was later sued by Clemens for defamation. That suit is pending.