As Clemens left Game 3 of the American League Division Series this October, many assumed he was taking his last steps toward Cooperstown, N.Y. The release of the Mitchell Report on Thursday, however, could stagger that course significantly.
The 45-year-old right-hander was among the most prominent identities uncovered by former Sen. George Mitchell's far-reaching investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball.
Clemens was mentioned on nine pages and 82 times by name. Clemens' lawyer, Rusty Hardin, released a statement on Thursday in which Clemens vehemently denied ever using steroids and said he was "outraged" that his name was included based upon the "uncorroborated allegations" of Brian McNamee, a former Yankees trainer.
"Roger has been repeatedly tested for these substances and he has never tested positive," Hardin said. "There has never been one shred of tangible evidence that he ever used these substances, and yet he is being slandered today."
A seven-time Cy Young Award winner who has won 354 games in a 24-year playing career with the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Astros, Clemens has compiled a career of achievements that may now be tinged by allegations that he used steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) on multiple occasions.
Clemens' future legacy will be most impacted by the ringing testimony provided by McNamee, who spoke with the Mitchell investigation as one condition of an agreement related to guilty pleas to distribution of illegal steroids and money laundering.
"Roger feels very strongly that the Mitchell investigation is appropriate," Hardin said. "He has no complaint about it at all. I strongly question the rightness of putting these names in there with nothing more than these kinds of uncorroborated allegations from someone, particularly when someone like Roger really denies it.
"I think it just does a disservice to everyone. I'm not sure why the Mitchell Report had to name names, knowing if it did so, there was a risk of unfairly targeting people as Roger strongly contends he has been.
According to the Report, the paths of Clemens and McNamee first crossed in 1998, when the right-hander was pitching for the Blue Jays and McNamee was working as Toronto's strength and conditioning coach.
Described as casual acquaintances, McNamee testified that Clemens first asked him to help inject the steroid Winstrol during the 1998 season. According to McNamee, Clemens' performance and ability to train was positively impacted.
After the All-Star break in 1998, Clemens finished the season 11-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 15 starts for Toronto after going 9-6 with a 3.55 ERA in 18 starts in the first half. After that season, Clemens received his fifth AL Cy Young Award.
When Clemens was traded from Toronto to New York in 1999, it wasn't long before McNamee followed. McNamee would later say that Clemens' insistence had helped him score a position as the Yankees' assistant strength and conditioning coach, where he worked with the Yankees' entire roster and drew dual paychecks -- one from the team and one from Clemens.
During the middle of the 2000 season, Clemens allegedly started using steroids again -- possibly as a way to avoid wearing down in the second half of each season, as his advancing years made it difficult to retain his strength.
McNamee testified that he injected the right-hander in the buttocks four to six times with testosterone obtained from former New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski. McNamee also began injecting Clemens with human growth hormone, doing so four to six times after explaining the potential benefits and risk of use.
On each occasion, McNamee said that he administered the injections at Clemens' apartment in New York. In August 2001, while still pitching for the Yankees, Clemens told McNamee that he was again ready to use steroids, receiving injections of Sustanon or Deca-Durabolin on four or five occasions at Clemens' apartment. McNamee said that Clemens did not like using human growth hormone because he did not like the "bellybutton shot."
The relationship as it related to performance-enhancing drugs between Clemens and McNamee ended with McNamee's dismissal by the Yankees following the 2001 season, according to the Report. After the 2001 season, Clemens received his sixth AL Cy Young Award.
McNamee said that he had no further knowledge if Clemens used performance-enhancing drugs after 2001, though they continued to train together as recently as May 2007, when Clemens worked out at the University of Kentucky while preparing to return to the Major Leagues with the Yankees.
Clemens was approached by Mitchell to respond to allegations made by McNamee and, according to the Report, declined. Clemens' attorney took umbrage with the inclusion of his client's name, saying that now that the Report is out, Clemens has little chance of defending himself.
"I have great respect for Senator Mitchell," Hardin said. "I think an overall look at this problem in baseball was an excellent idea. But I respectfully suggest it is very unfair to include Roger's name in this Report. He is left with no meaningful way to combat what he strongly contends are totally false allegations.
"He has not been charged with anything, he will not be charged with anything and yet he is being tried in the court of public opinion with no recourse. That is totally wrong."
Clemens finished the 2007 season 6-6 with a 4.18 ERA in 18 games (17 starts) after joining the Yankees at midseason, and he made just one aborted playoff start, lasting just 2 1/3 innings against the Indians before leaving due to injuries.
Clemens is currently a free agent, and his agent, Randy Hendricks, had said previously that he was planning to proceed as though he will retire, likely entering a post-career personal services commitment with the Houston Astros.
"He wants to tell people he didn't do this," Hardin said of Clemens, "and he feels badly for everyone involved."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.