Roger Clemens denied allegations by his former trainer that he took performance-enhancing drugs, calling them "a dangerous and destructive shortcut that no athlete should ever take."

The accusations against the seven-time Cy Young Award winner from former trainer Brian McNamee were the most striking in last week's Mitchell Report. Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell wrote McNamee said he injected Clemens with steroids in 1998 while with the Toronto Blue Jays, and steroids and human growth hormone in 2000 and 2001, while with the Yankees.

"I want to state clearly and without qualification: I did not take steroids, human growth hormone or any other banned substances at any time in my baseball career or, in fact, my entire life," Clemens said yesterday in a statement issued through his agent, Randy Hendricks. "Those substances represent a dangerous and destructive shortcut that no athlete should ever take."

Mitchell declined comment.

In other steroid news:

Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts has acknowledged using steroids 4 years ago, but insists he only tried it once before realizing he had made a "terrible decision."

Also, the players union has agreed to discuss with owners the recommendations Mitchell made to toughen the sport's drug program.

Noteworthy

* Former Phillies minor-league Julio Mateo pleaded guilty to charges of beating his wife in a Manhattan hotel. In exchange for the plea, Mateo was spared jail and sentenced to a domestic abuse program. Mateo was traded to the Phillies in July and was sent to Double A Reading. He was released earlier this month.

* Former Phillie Tadahito Iguchi wanted to play second base and find a comfortable place to live and he found it in San Diego. The Padres finalized their $3.85 million, 1-year contract with Iguchi and introduced him at a news conference. *