Clemens says "never" used steroids or HGH

By Bruce Nichols

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Roger Clemens -- hit with criminal charges on Thursday -- said he never used anabolic steroids or human growth hormone, while the baseball great's lawyer rejected a plea deal from prosecutors.

Clemens, one of the most successful and intimidating pitchers in the history of major league baseball, was indicted on charges of lying to the U.S. Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs.

"I never took HGH or Steroids," Clemens said in a statement posted on the social networking site Twitter.

"And I did not lie to Congress. I look forward to challenging the Governments (sic) accusations, and hope people will keep an open mind until trial. I appreciate all the support I have been getting. I am happy to finally have my day in court," Clemens added in a message signed with his nickname "Rocket."

Clemens became the latest major league baseball star, including all-time home run leader Barry Bonds, to face criminal charges related to performance-enhancing drugs.

Rusty Hardin, Clemens' lawyer, said prosecutors offered a plea bargain to resolve the case. "They've made an offer, and we've rejected it," Hardin told reporters at his Houston law offices.

Under such deals, defendants often plead guilty to a lesser charge in return for sentencing leniency.

Hardin said he expects Clemens to appear in court within three weeks and to go to trial sometime next year.

Clemens did not attend Hardin's news conference. Hardin did not disclose his client's whereabouts other than to say Clemens is "not in a secret location."

Hardin said he and Clemens expected an indictment once Clemens decided to testify before Congress in 2008. He said Clemens is "upbeat" about the opportunity to prove his innocence.

"Hopefully we haven't reached a stage in this country where you're supposed to admit something you didn't do just to keep people from being upset with you," Hardin added.

(Editing by Will Dunham)