On Monday, June 18, the long ordeal for one of baseball’s most well-known pitchers was over. Emotions ran high as Roger Clemens was acquitted of all six counts that he had lied to Congress at a 2008 hearing about illegal drug use. After the not guilty verdict was read, Clemens gathered in a huddle in the middle of the courtroom with his wife and sons, brushing away tears. The verdict marks the end of a situation that has been ongoing since 2007, and is one more blow against the government’s attempt to convict high profile sports stars accused of doping with illegal substances.
In 2008, after the release of the Mitchell Report on drug use in baseball, in which Roger Clemens name was mentioned, Clemens was asked to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Clemens repeatedly denied before the committee any use of steroids or HGH during his career, leading to charges that he committed 2 counts of perjury, 3 counts of making false statements and one count of obstructing Congress.
Lawyers for Clemens defense during his brief 10-week trial, the second one held after his first trial was declared a mistrial, claimed Clemens’ career success was due to work ethic and a strong workout regimen, not injections. Clemens did admit to receiving injections of vitamin B12 and lidocaine, neither of which are illegal. The prosecution’s one witness who claimed to have solid evidence of Clemens using injections was Brian McNamee, Clemens’ former strength coach, who proved to lack credibility with the jury. He claimed to have injected Clemens with both steroids and HGH, even keeping a syringe as evidence, but his motives and odd storage of the used syringe in a beer can ultimately proved unreliable as solid evidence against Clemens.
The accusations and trial proved highly damaging to the pitcher’s notable career accomplishments, even casting doubt on whether Roger Clemens’ inclusion on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot this fall with leave voters hesitant to check his name off. Clemens’ success into his 40’s, with a 7th Cy Young award at age 41 and a career total of 4,672 strikeouts, giving him a strikeout ranking that places him 3rd in baseball history, may not be enough to overcome the scandal, even with an acquittal. In the past, the Hall of Fame has shied away from nominees such as Mark McGuire who were accused of drug use.
Though the not guilty verdict has cleared Clemens in the eyes of the government, and possibly provided vindication for Clemens, who has always vehemently denied any wrongdoing, it remains to be seen whether Clemens will be known for his amazing accomplishments during his baseball career, or if the shadow of accusation will leave his reputation permanently tarnished.