US baseball star Roger Clemens, fighting to defend his reputation from doping allegations, denied any wrongdoing while under oath on Wednesday during intense questioning at a five-hour congressional hearing.
Skeptical lawmakers said someone was lying and attacked the credibility of Clemens and his former trainer Brian McNamee, whose accusations that the pitcher is a dope cheat led to the hearing.
McNamee has said he had injected Clemens, regarded as one of the game's all-time greatest, with steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) at least 16 times between 1998 and 2001 in a probe into baseball doping by former senator George Mitchell that was released two months ago.
"I injected those drugs into the body of Roger Clemens at his direction," McNamee told the hearing. "I now believe that the number of times I injected Roger Clemens was actually greater than I initially stated."
"I did not want to destroy Roger Clemens. I was hoping this issue would just fade away," he said.
However, Clemens said the syringes used by McNamee contained only vitamin B-12 and the painkiller lidocaine.
"I never asked him nor did he ever give me steroids or [HGH]," Clemens said. "I had no idea this man would exploit the trust I gave him to try to save his own skin by making up lies that have devastated me and my family."
"I've never used steroids, human growth hormone or any other type of illegal performance-enhancing drugs. The suggestion I'd use steroids or other illegal drugs is totally incompatible with who I am and what I stand for," he said.
When the House of Representatives Oversight Committee showdown was over, officials said no decision has been made on whether or not to press perjury charges against Clemens or McNamee over their vastly different stories.
"We haven't had that discussion yet. We will look at the total record,"said representative Tom Davis, ranking minority member of the committee.
"Someone is lying in spectacular fashion about the ultimate question. We will let the American people judge," he said.
If either man is found guilty of perjury, he could be sentenced to five years in prison.
"Perjury was not my focus," said committee chairman Henry Waxman, adding, "Lying is not necessarily perjury."
Lawmakers attacked the credibility of Clemens and McNamee with an interrogation that picked at the details of their stories.
They also unveiled sworn depositions taken earlier this month from Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch, former New York Yankees teammates of Clemens who admitted taking steroids or human growth hormone as McNamee had claimed.
Pettitte also said he recalled Clemens saying he took HGH in 1999 or 2000.
"I believe Andy has mis-heard my comments on HGH," Clemens said.
"It's hard to believe you," representative Elijah Cummings told Clemens. "It's hard to say that because you are one of my heroes. But it's hard to believe you."
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