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02/28/08 3:38 PM ET

FBI opens investigation on Clemens

Officials say they'll focus on whether pitcher lied to Congress

One day after two top-ranking Congressional Committee members sent a letter to the Department of Justice asking it to determine if Roger Clemens committed perjury in sworn testimony, the FBI responded Thursday by launching an official investigation.

According an a report by The Associated Press, the FBI is looking into whether Clemens lied to Congress when he denied taking steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs.

Law enforcement officials, according to the report, say the inquiry will focus on whether Clemens or his former personal trainer, Brian McNamee, lied when they testified under oath about the use of steroids.

"We've always expected they would open an investigation. They attended the Congressional hearing. So, what's new?" said Rusty Hardin, Clemens' top lawyer.

Clemens and McNamee appeared before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Feb. 13 and gave vastly different accounts about their 10-year working relationship.

McNamee said he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone several times over a three-year period, but Clemens has denied all claims, adamantly insisting that he never abused performance-enhancing drugs.

The nearly five-hour hearing triggered varying responses from the Committee members, with Republicans tending to question McNamee's credibility and Democrats focusing more on Clemens, but the letter sent to the Department of Justice Thursday night included the signatures of the highest-ranking Committee members of both the Democratic and Republican parties: Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Tom Davis (R-Va.).

The two Congressmen said in the letter that Clemens "committed perjury and made knowingly false statements during the Oversight and Government Reform Committee's investigation of the use of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs in professional baseball."

Hardin sounded unfazed Wednesday when he learned about the Committee's recommendation that the Dept. of Justice launch an investigation. He also said he was looking forward to the case moving out of the court of public opinion and into a court of law.

Drug Policy in Baseball

"I am delighted to be where there are now going to be some rules," Hardin said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon at his Houston office. "This has been a very frustrating experience for us, because as you all know, in the court of public opinion, there's no rules. Now we're in an arena where the scale's going to be balanced."

Hardin also said his client has always been aware that his denials could result in an investigation.

"He knew every one of the potential legal risks he was running," Hardin said. "He made the decision that he had nothing to fear in the end result, though in the short-term, there would be problems. He knew the short-term problems. This referral is one of them. He knew about it.

"But he is absolutely insistent that he did not take steroids, he did not take human growth hormone, and it would have been hypocritical and in violation of everything he's ever believed in to act as if he did by hunkering down. Rightly or wrongly, he chose not to hunker down, but to come out publicly and defend himself."

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.