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'LYING IN SPECTACULAR FASHION'

But who? With Clemens, trainer sticking to their stories, a public hearing resolves little.

Roger Clemens stuck out his famous right arm, the one that earned 354 major-league wins, seven Cy Young Awards and $160-million, and pointed in the direction of his accuser.

Without looking at Brian McNamee, Clemens told Congress, "I have strong disagreements with what this man says about me."

Separated by a few feet at a wooden witness table Wednesday, Clemens and McNamee were never farther apart.

There they sat, the star pitcher and his former personal trainer, under oath and facing blistering questions. For 4-1/2 hours, both men held to their versions of the he-said, he-said disagreement over whether McNamee injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone.

Clemens insisted it never happened. McNamee insisted it did.

His reputation and Hall of Fame candidacy potentially at stake - not to mention the possibility of criminal charges, should he lie - Clemens said: "I have never taken steroids or HGH. No matter what we discuss here today, I am never going to have my name restored."

And in a broadside aimed at McNamee, he added:

"I had no idea that this man would exploit the trust I gave him to try to save his skin by making up lies that have devastated me and my family."

For some members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Clemens' denials rang hollow, particularly in light of a new account of his discussion of HGH use, revealed by his friend and former teammate Andy Pettitte in a sworn affidavit.

"It's hard to believe you, sir," Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., told Clemens. "I hate to say that. You're one of my heroes. But it's hard to believe."

Clemens and McNamee, by all accounts once good friends, rarely glanced at one another. When Clemens did turn to his right, it was with the Rocket's mound glare. Seated between them was Charles Scheeler, a lawyer who helped compile the report on drug use in baseball headed by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

"Someone is lying in spectacular fashion," said Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, the committee's ranking Republican.

Just like their stories, Clemens' Texas drawl was in strong contrast to the clipped cadences of McNamee, a former New York police officer.

"I told the investigators I injected three people, two of whom I know confirmed my account," McNamee said. "The third is sitting at this table."

The matter could wind up with the Justice Department if prosecutors believe either man made false statements. The Justice Department is also reviewing used needles and bloody gauze pads McNamee turned over. His side says the items contained performance-enhancing drugs and Clemens' DNA.

"We found conflicts and inconsistencies in Mr. Clemens' accounts," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the committee's chairman. "During his deposition, he made statements we know are untrue."

The committee split largely along party lines, with the Democrats reserving their most pointed queries for Clemens, 45, and the Republicans giving McNamee a rougher time.

"You're here under oath, and yet we have lie after lie after lie after lie," Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., told McNamee.

Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., repeatedly called McNamee a "drug dealer."

One of McNamee's lawyers, Earl Ward, called it a "public flogging."

At one point, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., who said Congress was wasting its time with the hearing, had an aide display portraits of Clemens at various stages of his career. As the portraits towered over her, she declared that she saw no physical evidence he had gotten bigger during the years.

Waxman said afterward he hadn't "reached any conclusions" as to whether a criminal investigation is warranted, although several congressmen said a referral from the committee isn't needed to trigger one.

The hearing, which Waxman indicated would be his committee's last on the subject, was prompted by Clemens' vigorous denials of what McNamee told Mitchell. McNamee said he injected Clemens with HGH and steroids 16 to 21 times from 1998 to 2001. He said Wednesday he now thinks those numbers are too low.

"If Mr. McNamee is lying, he has acted inexcusably and he has made Mr. Clemens an innocent victim," Waxman said. "If Mr. Clemens isn't telling the truth, then he is acting shamefully and has smeared Mr. McNamee. I don't think there is anything in between."

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