Clemens pleads ‘not guilty’

To be tried on charges of lying about steroids

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The latest chapter in former pitcher Roger Clemens‘ precipitous fall from sure-fire Hall of Famer to baseball pariah unfolded Monday as he stood in front of a federal judge to answer charges that he lied to Congress about using performance-enhancing drugs.

“Not guilty, your honor,” Mr. Clemens, 48, said in a clear, loud voice during a roughly 15-minute arraignment in U.S. District Court in Washington.

A hulking man wearing khaki dress pants and a navy blue blazer over a white shirt and a floral patterned tie, Mr. Clemens appeared to have changed little physically since he last pitched in the big leagues in 2007. He still sported the short, spiky blond haircut he favored as a player.

Mr. Clemens left the courthouse quickly after the arraignment, followed by a trail of reporters that turned into a crush of television and still cameras as he and his lawyers entered a waiting black Cadillac SUV.

A gag order put in place by U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton kept Mr. Clemens and his lawyer, Rusty Hardin, from answering questions. Despite that, the throng of reporters was exceptional even for a Washington federal courthouse that is accustomed to high-profile defendants.

Then again, much about Mr. Clemens is exceptional.

Known as the “Rocket” during his 24-year major league career, the hard-throwing right-hander was revered by his hometown fans, hated by many others and consistently feared by big-league hitters. His more than 350 wins and 4,500 strikeouts made him a shoo-in for the baseball Hall of Fame.

Mr. Clemens‘ seven Cy Young awards — given annually to the best pitcher in each league — are the most in the history of the game.

Though always considered surly and somewhat disagreeable, Mr. Clemens reputation began to incur irreparable damage as the issue of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball took center stage. Mr. Clemens and Barry Bonds, the best pitcher and hitter, respectively, of their generation became the poster boys for the illegal use of steroids and human-growth hormone.

Mr. Bonds, the game’s all-time home-run leader, is set to go on trial next year on charges he lied to a federal grand jury about his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Suspicions about Mr. Clemens‘ use of those drugs were largely confirmed for many with the 2007 release of a bombshell report from former Sen. George Mitchell, Maine Democrat. The hurler’s former trainer, Brian McNamee, told investigators preparing the so-called Mitchell Report that he had injected Mr. Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs numerous times between 1998 and 2001.

Mr. Clemens has adamantly denied that allegation.

He voluntarily testified in 2008 before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee as part of hearings held in the aftermath of the Mitchell Report.

“Let me be clear,” Mr. Clemens said at one point. “I have never taken steroids or HGH.”

But his testimony was far from convincing to members of the committee, which referred the matter to the Justice Department for investigation into whether Mr. Clemens‘ testimony amounted to criminal behavior.

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About the Author
Ben Conery

Ben Conery

Ben Conery is a member of the investigative team covering the Supreme Court and legal affairs. Prior to coming to The Washington Times in 2008, Mr. Conery covered criminal justice and legal affairs for daily newspapers in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He was a 2006 recipient of the New England Newspaper Association’s Publick Occurrences Award for a series of articles about ...

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