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Earlier this year Covington & Burling decided to add pitcher Roger Clemens to its roster of high-profile clients. But perhaps it should have first received approval from another client — Major League Baseball. Covington agreed to represent Clemens in the congressional steroids inquiry without getting the league’s sign-off — a potential blunder in the high-stakes world of sports league representation. According to a source familiar with the matter, Covington’s decision to represent Clemens annoyed the league. The official relationship between MLB and the firm has not changed but, according to the same source, a meeting between the two is imminent. Mitchell Dolin, a Covington partner designated as the firm’s spokesman, declined to comment. An MLB spokesman also declined to comment. Last week Clemens testified before a congressional committee following a report prepared by former Sen. George Mitchell — and commissioned by MLB — that linked Clemens and 90 other players to performance-enhancing drugs. After the report came out in December, Clemens hired Houston-based attorney Rusty Hardin, who led a public relations battle to clear Clemens’ name. But when the theater moved to Washington, Hardin turned to Lanny Breuer, co-chairman of Covington’s white-collar defense and investigations group, who has plenty of experience on the Hill. As special counsel to President Bill Clinton, he represented the president during his impeachment proceedings. Since then his clients have included Halliburton Co. and Moody’s Investors Service in connection with Enron Corp.’s collapse. But the Clemens assignment would potentially put Covington at odds with MLB. Although the firm is known mostly for its work on behalf of the National Football League, it has also done some work for baseball, according to its Web site. Last year, for example, it represented baseball in connection with the launch of an MLB channel. However, Clemens’ interests appear to be aligned against the league’s. Breuer apparently didn’t accept the Clemens assignment right away. Last month, Hardin told The New York Times that Breuer said he had to get clearance first. “We’d talked to him, and we’d just been waiting a day or two to check out conflicts,” said Hardin. “He had no conflicts.”
Andrew Longstreth is a senior reporter with The American Lawyer , an ALM publication.

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