NEW YORK (AP) -A few days ago, Roger Clemens was a lock for the Hall of Fame. Now, he's not such a sure thing.
The seven-time Cy Young Award winner was hit hard Thursday by the Mitchell Report, which said it wasn't only fastballs and splitters - but steroids - that helped him rack up all those strikeouts late in his career.
The Rocket vehemently denied the allegations through his lawyer. Still, damage undoubtedly was done and his reputation might be ruined.
Clemens and workout partner Andy Pettitte were among 16 New York Yankees, past and present, named in a 409-page report that identified 85 players to differing degrees. It concluded a 20-month investigation by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, hired by commissioner Bud Selig to examine the Steroids Era.
Once it was finally released, Clemens was the most shocking star on the list. He was singled out in nearly nine pages, with 82 references by name, and accused of taking injections of steroids in his buttocks.
Suddenly, he joined Barry Bonds as the scorned symbols of baseball's doping problem.
``Roger has been repeatedly tested for these substances and he has never tested positive,'' Clemens' attorney, Rusty Hardin, said in a statement. ``There has never been one shred of tangible evidence that he ever used these substances and yet he is being slandered today.''
Eighth on the career wins list with 354, Clemens put off retirement yet again this year and returned to the Yankees in June. After spending the previous three seasons with his hometown Houston Astros, he finished 6-6 with a 4.18 ERA. The 45-year-old right-hander hasn't decided if he will pitch next season.
Much of the information on him in the report came from Brian McNamee, a former major league strength and conditioning coach. McNamee worked for the Toronto Blue Jays and later the Yankees when Clemens was pitching for those teams.
McNamee said he gave steroids to Clemens, Pettitte and former Yankees second baseman Chuck Knoblauch - personally injecting Clemens several times, according to the report. McNamee also said he injected Pettitte with Human Growth Hormone in 2002, according to the report.
Hardin called McNamee a ``troubled'' man and insisted he wasn't a credible source.
``Everybody assumes this is true and a man's reputation and all these years is thrown and gone just like that,'' Hardin said during a news conference at his Houston office. ``Even if it turns out it didn't happen, he is ruined.''
Clemens didn't attend the news conference because he wanted to be with his family, Hardin said.
Clemens' numbers declined during his final few seasons with Boston in the mid-1990s, and the pitcher signed with Toronto before the 1997 season.
He was far from done. The Rocket won consecutive AL Cy Young Awards for the Blue Jays, then another in 2001 with the Yankees and his seventh in 2004 with Houston.
Soon after Clemens was traded to the Yankees in 1999, he and Pettitte became close friends. Both from the Houston area, they often worked out together under McNamee's direction, according to the report.
Pettitte's agent, Randy Hendricks, released a statement on the pitcher's behalf Thursday.
``I have advised Andy that as an active player, he should refrain from commenting until we have had an opportunity to speak with his union and other advisers. At the appropriate time, he will have something to say,'' Hendricks said.
Hardin said that in a November 2006 interview with Sports Illustrated, McNamee indicated that Clemens and Pettitte never used any kind of illegal substances.
The 35-year-old Pettitte, who also pitched for Houston from 2004-06, returned to the Yankees this season and went 15-9 with a 4.05 ERA. He recently decided to pitch for New York again next year rather than retire, agreeing to a $16 million, one-year contract.
Jason Giambi and reliever Ron Villone were the other members of the 2007 Yankees to be named in the report. The team declined to comment, saying it was reviewing the report.
``I have a copy in my office,'' Yankees senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner said outside Legends Field at the team's spring training complex in Tampa, Fla.
Giambi acknowledged a ``personal history with steroids'' this year.
Kevin Brown (2004-05), Jose Canseco (2000), Jason Grimsley (1999-00), Glenallen Hill (2000), David Justice (2000-01), Hal Morris (1988-89), Denny Neagle (2000), Gary Sheffield (2004-06), Mike Stanton (1997-03), Randy Velarde (1987-95) and Rondell White (2002) were the other former Yankees cited in the report.
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Associated Press Writer Juan A. Lozano in Houston and AP freelance writer Mark Didtler in Tampa, Fla., contributed to this report.
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