Clemens fires back, denies taking steroids or HGH

NEW YORK -- Roger Clemens denied allegations by his former
trainer that he took performance-enhancing drugs, calling them "a
dangerous and destructive shortcut that no athlete should ever

The accusations against the seven-time Cy Young Award winner
from former trainer Brian McNamee were the most striking in last
week's Mitchell Report. Former Senate Majority Leader George
Mitchell said McNamee said he injected Clemens with steroids in
1998 while with the Toronto Blue Jays, and steroids and human
growth hormone in 2000 and 2001, while with the New York Yankees.

"I want to state clearly and without qualification: I did not
take steroids, human growth hormone or any other banned substances
at any time in my baseball career or, in fact, my entire life,"
Clemens said Tuesday in a statement issued through his agent, Randy
Hendricks. "Those substances represent a dangerous and destructive
shortcut that no athlete should ever take.

"I am disappointed that my 25 years in public life have
apparently not earned me the benefit of the doubt, but I understand
that Senator Mitchell's report has raised many serious questions. I
plan to publicly answer all of those questions at the appropriate
time in the appropriate way. I only ask that in the meantime people
not rush to judgment."

Another former McNamee client, Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte,
said last weekend that he took HGH twice while rehabbing from an
injury in 2002. Mitchell said McNamee told him he injected Pettitte
with HGH two-to-four times that year.

"He stands 100 percent behind the accuracy of the information
he provided to Sen. Mitchell," McNamee's lawyer, Ed Ward, said in
a statement.

Mitchell declined comment.

Baseball players and owners didn't have an agreement banning
steroids until September 2002. They banned HGH in January 2005.

McNamee's lawyer, Ed Ward, said he would attempt to reach his
client to determine whether McNamee wanted to respond to Clemens'

Clemens' lawyer, Rusty Hardin, issued a denial last Thursday,
hours after Mitchell's report was issued. Tuesday marked the first
public comments by Clemens, an 11-time All-Star who spent 24 years
in the major leagues with Boston, Toronto, the Yankees and Houston.

The allegations also have the Texas High School Baseball Coaches
Association reconsidering whether to let Clemens speak at the
group's annual convention next month. The group held an executive
meeting Tuesday but postponed making a decision until it could get
more information. Clemens spoke with one of the group's coaches
before the meeting and said he "is ready to come speak," said Jim
Long, president of the association.

"We feel we owe it to our association and Roger himself to give
him the benefit of the doubt further," Long said.

The 45-year-old right-hander was 6-6 with a 4.18 ERA for the
Yankees this year and may retire. He said he planned to retire
after the 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 seasons, only to return each

A six-time 20-game winner, Clemens was considered by most to be
a first-ballot Hall of Famer before McNamee's allegations.