It gives me no joy to have joined you in calling this hearing. We were faced with an unenviable choice: allow a strenuous challenge to the Mitchell Report to stand without review, or open ourselves up to criticism that we're grandstanding, that we're acting like self-appointed prosecutors trying the claims of that Report.
In the end, we decided we had a duty to probe the challenge. That we needed to help determine whether the Mitchell Report, with its 409-page, sordid picture of backroom drug deals and players injecting each other with illegal substances right in their locker rooms - whether that Report could and should still stand as proof positive that baseball's effort to combat illegal drug use needs a fresh look.
Our hearing yesterday was a helpful reminder of the importance of our work. We learned how those attempting to sell HGH are scamming consumers and breaking the law. We learned of the terrible risks associated with unapproved use. We learned yet again of the dangerous and phony messages being sent to young athletes that there are magic pills and wonder drugs that can grease their path to the Hall of Fame.
So while today's hearing may be awkward and joyless, we know why we're here. We're here to again try to disrupt and discredit the crass messages aimed at our children.
We can't be arbiters of credibility, at least not this soon after gathering evidence. We can't be lured into attaching a coefficient of credibility to different witnesses. We can only collect facts and present them as completely and dispassionately as possible.
Today we'll let the American people judge who's to be believed in this unfortunate battle of wills, memories, and reputations. Coming into today's hearing, we have before us some very different stories. They're in many ways incompatible. Someone is lying in spectacular fashion about the ultimate question.
But we have not pre-judged, and nor should anyone tuning in today. Let's listen to our witnesses. Let's probe disparities and contradictions. Let's remain fair and objective.
And then let's decide whether anything we've learned leaves the Mitchell Report in a less glowing light than it's thus far enjoyed.
As we did in January, we want to commend Senator Mitchell for his work. He was saddled with a daunting list of obstacles: no subpoena power, little cooperation from players, and only tepid enthusiasm among owners more concerned with filling seats than protecting public health. He produced a sober, even-handed document whose factual assertions, with little exception, have remained unchallenged.
Today we offer a stage to the primary, most vocal challenger.
What better way to further examine the strength of the Mitchell Report than to offer someone of Roger Clemens' stature the chance to tell his story and have that story, in turn, examined as well? Mr. Clemens - because of the scrutiny he's received, because of his accomplishments and profile, because of the good work his foundation has done for many years - deserves this opportunity. And so does his former friend, trainer, and now accuser, Brian McNamee.
At our first hearing on January 15th, we learned from Senator Mitchell that players were required to consent to an interview before seeing the evidence against them; that they couldn't simply appear, review the evidence, and leave if they concluded they had nothing further to say. It's not hard to imagine why players like Roger Clemens might have opted to remain mum under this scenario.
Today is his chance to speak free of those constraints, yet under oath and before a multitude of interested observers.
We'll ask our witnesses about the contradictions, open threads, and mysteries we have uncovered through interviews, depositions, and document review. We'll find out if witnesses are sticking to their stories. We'll probably discover that some lines of inquiry are red herrings. We'll undoubtedly learn things that are new to us. And perhaps we'll end up as confused and uncertain as ever.
But reaching consensus on whether the Mitchell Report is now sullied does not require us to reach firm conclusions or judgments on the veracity of our witnesses today. Factual resolution, whether through exoneration or heightened skepticism, need not be our goal.
Today's testimony and questioning may not be tidy. Our hearing may not end up wrapped in a neat package and may not fit the story line anticipated by many and hoped for by some. That's okay.
I think we will have heard and learned enough to soon conclude whether we can return to the process of implementing the best of Senator Mitchell's recommendations.
This is not a court of law. The "guilt" or "innocence" of the players accused in the Report - and of the accusers - is not our concern. Our focus is and has been on Senator Mitchell's recommendations more than his findings. We're here to save lives, not ruin careers.
Why? Because the health of young athletes across the country is at stake, and we won't hesitate to defend their interests, even if the process isn't pretty.