Seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday for allegedly lying to Congress about using steroids during his major league baseball career.
Clemens faces charges of obstruction of Congress, perjury and false statements for testimony he gave to Congress regarding any use of performance enhancing drugs, specifically steroids and human growth hormone, or HGH. Clemens is charged with making the false statements to congressional investigators in a February 5, 2008 deposition and the perjury charges involve his February 13, 2008 testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
The indictment says Clemens statements "did corruptly endeavor to influence, obstruct, and impede the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which an investigation was being had by a Committee of the United States House of Representatives."
Clemens defended himself on his Twitter account today, writing, "I never took HGH or Steroids. And I did not lie to Congress. I look forward to challenging the Governments [sic] accusations, and hope people will keep an open mind until trial. I appreciate all the support I have been getting. I am happy to finally have my day in court."
Clemens won 354 games between 1984 and 2007 as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Houston Astros. Only eight other pitchers in baseball history have won more.
If convicted Clemens could face a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine. However, a sentence of up to 21 months in prison is more likely, based on current guidelines for sentencing.
Today's indictment supports the testimony of Clemens's former trainer, Brian McNamee, who also testified before Rep. Henry Waxman's House committee in 2008. McNamee testified that that he injected the "Rocket" with anabolic steroids and HGH more than a dozen times between 1998 and 2001. McNamee gave federal investigators needles that he said he had used to inject Clemens.
"This evidence is 100 percent authentic," McNamee said at the time.
Clemens testified that the injections were of vitamin B12.
"I have been accused of something I'm not guilty of," Clemens told the panel. "Let me be clear: I have never taken steroids or HGH."
"Someone isn't telling the truth," said Waxman. The panel's then-ranking Republican, Rep. Tom Davis, echoed him: "Someone is lying in spectacular fashion."
After the hearing Waxman and Davis said they gave Clemens the chance to avoid perjuring himself by cancelling the hearing, but that Clemens wanted to try to clear his name in public. That claim was swiftly refuted by Clemens' attorneys.
McNamee's lawyer, Richard Emery, told ABC News that the indictment signals an important day in the fight against cheating in major league sports.
"It shows again that lying to Congress and the American people can't be tolerated. Clemens is going to have to pay the price for lying to Congress and to the American people and lying about Brian McNamee," said Emery. "It's a very significant first step towards vindication. There was never any doubt that Brian wasn't lying and Clemens was."
Pitcher Roger Clemens Accused Perjury to Congress
"You cannot charge and expect to convince a jury that a person lied if it is just one person's word against another," said former federal prosecutor Pat Rowan. "There need to be something more in the way of physical evidence, perhaps a syringe that has both Clemens' DNA and steroid residue in it.
McNamee originally put himself in Clemens' crosshairs when he signed a proffer agreement with federal prosecutors, stipulating that he could not be charged with steroid distribution as long as everything he told the prosecutors was truthful. He also was asked to cooperate with the investigation led by former Sen. George Mitchell on behalf of Major League Baseball, which made public McNamee's claims that he injected Clemens with steroids and growth hormone in 1998, 2000 and 2001.
Congress decided to hold its hearing after Clemens publicly challenged the veracity of the Mitchell report.
Clemens filed a defamation lawsuit against McNamee last January. McNamee's attorneys have since argued to have the suit thrown out. Last month, they filed a defamation suit on McNamee's behalf against Clemens.
Clemens is the latest professional athlete to be accused of using steroids or performance-enhancing drugs, and see his case dragged back into the media spotlight after he denied it.
In January the slugger Mark McGwire admitted that he in fact had used steroids during his baseball career, though he dodged the question in a hearing on Capitol Hill. "it was a wrong thing what I did. I totally regret it," said McGwire.
Now, however, the spotlight is firmly on Clemens as he gears up for a trial that could end up determining his reputation, his freedom, and his place in baseball history.