WASHINGTON - Former baseball star Roger Clemens was acquitted Monday on all charges that he obstructed and lied to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs.
Shortly after the verdict was read, Clemens and his family engaged in hugs in the courtroom including one large group hug. At one point, wife Debbie Clemens dabbed Roger Clemens’ eyes with a tissue.
Clemens, 49, was charged with two counts of perjury, three counts of making false statements and one count of obstructing Congress when he testified at a deposition and at a nationally televised hearing in February 2008. The charges centered on his repeated denials that he used steroids and human growth hormone during a 24-year career produced 354 wins and a record seven Cy Young Awards.< A seven-year investigation into home run king Barry Bonds yielded a guilty verdict on only one count of obstruction of justice in a San Francisco court last year, with the jury deadlocked on whether Bonds lied to a grand jury when he denied knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs. A two-year, multicontinent investigation that looked into possible drug use by cyclist Lance Armstrong was recently closed with no charges brought, though the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency filed formal accusations last week that could strip the seven-time Tour de France winner of his victories in that storied race. Armstrong denies any doping
The Clemens outcome also comes on the heels of the Department of Justice’s failure to gain a conviction in the high-profile corruption trial of former presidential candidate John Edwards.
A crucial barometer comes next year, when Clemens’ name appears on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. His statistics would normally make him a shoo-in for baseball’s greatest honor, but voters have been reluctant to induct premier players - such as Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro - whose careers were tainted by allegations of drug use.
Clemens capped an outstanding career with age-defying performances well into his 40s. He went 18-4 and won his seventh Cy Young Award at the age of 41, and the next year posted a career-best 1.87 ERA. His 4,672 strikeouts ranked third in baseball history.