Former pitcher Roger Clemens charged with perjury over testimony to Congress about steroid use

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Roger Clemens charged with perjury in steroid case

WASHINGTON — A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens for allegedly lying to Congress about using steroids and growth hormone.

Clemens faces charges of obstruction of Congress, making false statements and perjury.

The six-count grand jury indictment said that Clemens obstructed a congressional inquiry with 15 statements that he made under oath, including denials that he had ever used steroids or human growth hormone. The indictment alleged that he lied and committed perjury regarding the same matters.

The former Major League baseball pitcher and his former trainer, Brian McNamee, testified under oath at a 2008 hearing before a House committee and contradicted each other about whether Clemens had used the banned substances.

McNamee has told federal agents, baseball investigator George Mitchell and the committee that he injected Clemens more than a dozen times with steroids and human growth hormone from 1998 to 2001.

Clemens has maintained that McNamee was lying.

“As far as we’re concerned, it’s vindication,” Earl Ward, one of McNamee’s attorneys, said of the indictment.

Clemens’ attorney, Rusty Hardin, said by telephone from Houston that he had just learned of the indictment and would wait to decide whether to comment.

The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, the judge who presided over the perjury and obstruction trial of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby. No date has been set for Clemens’ initial court appearance.

In a defiant appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in 2008, Clemens said, “I’ve been accused of something I’m not guilty of … I have never taken steroids or HGH.”

Longtime Clemens friend and New York Yankees pitching star Andy Pettite told congressional investigators that Clemens confided to him that he had used human growth hormone. Clemens said Pettite’s assertion wasn’t correct.

“I believe Andy has misheard” the conversation, Clemens responded. He said he had simply mentioned to Pettite a TV show about three older men who used HGH to get back their quality of life.

On Thursday, former Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, who was the top Republican on the House panel at the time of the baseball star’s testimony, called the indictment “a self-inflicted wound” by Clemens.

“Clemens was not under subpoena. He came voluntarily. He wanted to come to the committee and clear his name. And I sat there in the office with (committee chairman) Henry Waxman and said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t lie.’”

During a 23-year career as a starting pitcher, Clemens played for the Boston Red Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays, the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros, chalking up 354 wins, 4,672 strikeouts and a lifetime earned run average of 3.12.

Other baseball greats, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds among them, have become enmeshed in steroid scandals.

McGwire said in January that “it was a wrong thing what I did. I totally regret it.”

The Clemens matter was the second referral the congressional committee made to the Justice Department. The other was that of Miguel Tejada, who pleaded guilty to making misleading statements to committee investigators in 2005 regarding his knowledge of performance enhancing drugs.

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