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Clemens Speaks Under Oath to Congress

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WASHINGTON — Roger Clemens' most meaningful denial of drug use so far was also the most well-guarded.

The star pitcher gave a sworn deposition for about five hours to congressional lawyers behind closed doors Tuesday, addressing his former personal trainer's allegations. And this time, Clemens was under oath.

"I just want to thank the committee, the staff that I just met with. They were very courteous," the seven-time Cy Young Award winner said, wearing a pinstriped gray suit instead of a pinstriped New York Yankees uniform. "It was great to be able to tell them what I've been saying all along _ that I've never used steroids or growth hormone."

Tuesday's deposition was the first time Clemens faced legal risk if he were to make false statements. Home run king Barry Bonds, another player linked to steroid use, was indicted in November on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for telling a grand jury in 2003 that he didn't knowingly take performance-enhancing drugs.

In the 1 1/2 months since former Senate majority leader George Mitchell released his report on drug use in baseball, Clemens strongly and repeatedly denied what his former personal trainer, Brian McNamee, said _ in statements by his lawyers, in a written statement, in a video statement, during a taped TV interview and in a live news conference.

Clemens spoke Tuesday with staffers from the same House panel that _ after the Mitchell Report came out _ asked the Justice Department to look into whether 2002 AL MVP Miguel Tejada lied when he told committee investigators in 2005 that he never took performance enhancers and had no knowledge of other players using or talking about steroids. The FBI's field office in Washington is handling that inquiry.

"Roger hasn't declined to answer a single question since this matter began, and he was completely forthcoming," one of Clemens' lawyers, Lanny Breuer, told The Associated Press.

Clemens, Breuer said, "answered every question that was posed to him today and we very much appreciate the committee giving him that opportunity."

Clemens' private testimony to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform came one day after his Yankees teammate and workout partner, Andy Pettitte, gave a deposition to committee staff for 2 1/2 hours. Both players' interviews were preparation for a Feb. 13 public hearing expected to focus on McNamee's allegations in the Mitchell Report that he injected Clemens more than a dozen times with human growth hormone and steroids in 1998, 2000 and 2001.

Clemens acknowledged he received injections from McNamee, but he said they were for vitamin B-12 and the painkiller lidocaine. His repeated rejection of contents in the Mitchell Report drew Congress' attention.

McNamee also told Mitchell he injected Pettitte with HGH. Pettitte acknowledged two days after the report was released that he did try HGH for two days in 2002 to help deal with an elbow injury.

Clemens, Pettitte and McNamee all are slated to testify Feb. 13.

"I look forward to being here, I guess in this room, next week," Clemens said in his 25-second statement after the deposition.

McNamee is to meet with committee lawyers Thursday. Richard Emery, one of McNamee's lawyers, said Tuesday that his client will submit to a deposition, rather than a transcribed interview. He also said McNamee was not granted immunity by the committee; the trainer wanted the same protection he received from federal prosecutors, covering his admission about distributing steroids.

"There's no immunity," Emery said in a telephone interview. "We will just go in and testify under oath."

Committee staffers would not discuss any specifics of Clemens' deposition. One committee member who sat in on about an hour of the deposition, California Republican Darrell Issa, characterized Clemens as "candid."

"He answered fully every question while I was there," Issa told The Associated Press.

The congressman also said the deposition raised questions in his mind about whether the Mitchell Report accurately reflected how pervasive steroid use has been in baseball, a subject he expects to be addressed in next week's committee hearing.

A former Yankees teammate of Pettitte and Clemens, Chuck Knoblauch, spoke to committee staff Friday. The day before, an employee of the sports agency that represents Clemens and Pettitte was interviewed.

Former New York Mets clubhouse employee Kirk Radomski, is to speak to committee lawyers Feb. 12. Radomski pleaded guilty in April to federal felony charges of distributing steroids and laundering money, and is scheduled to be sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

After Tuesday's deposition, Clemens did not take questions from reporters. As the 354-game winner headed for the exit outside the committee offices, someone at the end of the marble hallway yelled out the pitcher's nickname, "Rocket!" That drew a quick wave of a hand from Clemens before he stepped into the wood-paneled elevator.

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AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.