THERE IS an easy way for Roger Clemens to change my belief that, despite his denials, he used illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

In fact, it's the same thing any player who believes he was incorrectly fingered as a drug cheat in the Mitchell Report can do.

Heck, as far as I'm concerned, this would apply even to Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, if those tainted sluggers want a do-over.

(Disclaimer: This offer does not apply to Barry Bonds, because he already has demonstrated a propensity to ignore the following conditions.)

Go to Washington, or in the case of Sosa and McGwire, go back to Washington.

When Congress holds more hearings next month on the proliferation of illegal performance-enhancing drug use in major league baseball, Clemens and anyone else who wants me to believe his professed innocence should be front and center, pleading with government officials to allow them to testify.

Don't wait for a subpoena - volunteer.

Even though there are no criminal penalties currently attached to his alleged usage of steroids and human growth hormone, Clemens can get whatever levels of immunity he deems necessary.

The seven-time Cy Young winner can have an army of sharp-dressed attorneys sitting beside him and whispering in his ear, if that will make him comfortable.

But to get me to change my opinion, I need Clemens to take an oath to tell the truth and then answer one simple question, from whichever lawmaker blurts it out first:

"Mr. Clemens, have you ever used performance-enhancing drugs, be they anabolic steroids or human growth hormones, during your major league baseball playing career?"

If Clemens answers, "No," under those circumstances, I'll believe him.

The reason is simple – Bonds.

Four years ago this month, Bonds was offered the same opportunity with the same benefits of immunity by a grand jury in San Francisco. All Bonds had to do was truthfully answer some questions about his association with the Bay Area Lab Co-operative.

When the time came for Bonds to discuss his possible usage of illegal performance-enhancing drugs, he knowingly lied to the grand jury, according to the feds.

Six days before the release of baseball's Mitchell Report, Bonds became the big headline in the MLB drug scandal as he headed into court to be arraigned on federal perjury charges.

Whether Bonds will be found innocent or guilty is yet to be determined, but his current legal issues illustrate that the government doesn't give a damn about your status as a Hall of Fame baseball player when it comes to testifying under oath.

You lie, and you risk federal prosecution and possible conviction.

Clemens might be a lot of things, but the nation's idiot is not one of them.

And considering Bonds' current legal mess, Clemens and any other player willing to testify before Congress would have to be 100 times beyond idiotic to lie now.

This wouldn't be the court of public opinion. This wouldn't be a place where Clemens could arrogantly believe that a press release from his lawyer, followed days later by his own released statement, is good enough to convince everyone that his former trainer lied when he told Mitchell he injected Clemens with steroids and HGH several times.

"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, in my entire life," Clemens said in a statement released on Tuesday.

So what? That statement holds about as much weight as the paper it was faxed on.

Honestly, if Clemens had so little integrity and honor that he was willing to cheat to gain a competitive advantage in playing the game, why should we believe he has enough integrity and honor not to lie about it once he was nailed?

What's at stake for him if he's lying to us now?

But let Clemens take an oath to tell the truth and then read that same statement as his sworn testimony to members of Congress, and I'll then believe him.

I'd have no choice but to believe him, because I can't believe any player would be stupid enough to lie to the government again about illegal performance-enhancing drug use.

If the feds find out later that you lied to them, they'll come after you. It might take more than 3 years to put together a case, but if they believe you've lied, they will come after you with perjury charges.

Lie to the government, and it's no longer about public embarrassment or tainted legacies.

It's about perjury, and risking prosecution and potential jail time.

So go to Washington, Mr. Clemens – make your denials under oath in front of Congress, and then I will believe you. *

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