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