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Clemens finishes testimony with committee lawyers after 5 hours

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 1½ 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 2½ 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.