Sports News

Pitcher Clemens denies doping allegations

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens has “vehemently” denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs, his attorney said on Thursday in response to a bombshell baseball report.

New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens leaves the field during the third inning of Game 3 of their MLB American League Division Series baseball game in New York October 7, 2007. Clemens vehemently denied allegations in the Mitchell Report on steroid use in baseball that he used performance-enhancing drugs and is outraged that his name is included in the report, his lawyer said in a statement on Thursday. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine

Lawyer Rusty Hardin told reporters Clemens had never tested positive for steroids and was being falsely accused by a former trainer who feared federal prosecution.

“Roger Clemens adamantly, vehemently or whatever adjective can be used, denies he has ever used steroids or whatever the word is for improper substance,” said Hardin, a prominent defense attorney in Houston, where Clemens lives.

“There has never been one shred of tangible evidence that he ever used these substances and yet he is being slandered today,” he said.

Hardin spoke after former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell released his findings in New York from a 20-month investigation requested by Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig.

The report, which named 77 players who allegedly used steroids and other drugs to improve their performance, said Clemens got injected with steroids while playing for the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Yankees by the former trainer for both teams, Brian McNamee.

Hardin said McNamee initially denied any reports of steroid use, but changed his story when federal authorities threatened to prosecute him.

The allegations from McNamee were those of “a troubled and unreliable witness who only came up with names after being threatened with possible prison time,” Hardin said.

Clemens did not attend the press conference at Hardin’s office in downtown Houston.

“I have no doubt he’s with his family. One of his big concerns was making sure his family knew this was about to happen and getting them ready,” Hardin said.

Scattered rumors and reports of steroid use have plagued Clemens in recent years as the drug scandal investigated by Mitchell unfolded. The 45-year-old righthander returned to the Yankees this year to pitch in his 24th big league season, but was slowed by injuries.

Clemens ranks as one of greatest pitchers of all time, with 354 wins, 4,672 strikeouts and 11 All-Star appearances. He was the American League Most Valuable Player in 1986 and his seven Cy Young Awards for best pitcher are a record.

He pitched in Boston, Toronto and New York before joining the Houston Astros for three seasons starting in 2004 after he supposedly retired.

His best pal, pitcher Andy Pettitte, also was alleged in Mitchell’s report to have used human growth hormone to enhance his recovery from an elbow injury and improve performance.

Pettitte’s agent, Randy Hendricks, who is also Clemens’ agent, issued a statement saying he had advised Pettitte not to comment.

Hardin said he was not representing Pettitte.

Editing by Jeff Franks and Todd Eastham