Seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday for allegedly lying to Congress about using steroids and growth hormone. The criminal case writes a new chapter in one of Major League Baseball’s worst scandals, the rampant use of the banned substances.
A six-count indictment alleges that Mr. Clemens obstructed a congressional inquiry with 15 different statements that he made under oath in 2008, including denials that he had ever used steroids or human growth hormone. The indictment says that he lied and committed perjury regarding the same matters.
The former pitcher and his former trainer, Brian McNamee, testified under oath at a 2008 hearing before a House committee and contradicted each other about whether Mr. Clemens had used performance-enhancing drugs.
Mr. McNamee has told federal agents, baseball investigator George Mitchell and the committee that he injected Mr. Clemens more than a dozen times with steroids and human growth hormone from 1998 to 2001.
Mr. Clemens has maintained that Mr. McNamee was lying, and said so under oath before the committee. “I couldn’t tell you the first thing about it,” he testified when asked about human growth hormone. “I never used steroids. Never performance-enhancing steroids.”
“As far as we’re concerned, it’s vindication,” Earl Ward, one of Mr. McNamee’s attorneys, said of the indictment.
The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, 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.
Mr. Clemens’ attorney, Rusty Hardin, had no immediate comment.
In his defiant testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Mr. 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 teammate Andy Pettitte told congressional investigators that Mr. Clemens confided to him that he had used HGH. Mr. Clemens said Mr. Pettitte was wrong.
“I believe Andy has misheard” the conversation, Mr. Clemens responded. The celebrated pitcher said he had simply mentioned to Mr. Pettitte, a fellow pitcher, a TV show about three older men who used HGH to get back their quality of life.
Former Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, who was the top Republican on the House panel at the time of the former baseball star’s testimony, called the indictment “a self-inflicted wound” by Mr. Clemens.
“Clemens was not under subpoena. He came voluntarily. He wanted to come to the committee and clear his name,” Mr. Davis said. “And I sat there in the office with [committee Chairman] Henry Waxman and said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t lie.”’
Mr. Davis added: “I did not want to refer this to Justice, but we didn’t have any choice.”
The former congressman said Mr. Clemens “got caught in a speed trap, basically. He could have just let it go, but he denied it vociferously before Congress. Several times, we gave him the opportunity to back down, and he didn’t.”
During a 23-year career as a starting pitcher, Mr. Clemens played for the Boston Red Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees and the Houston Astros, chalking up 354 wins, 4,672 strikeouts and a lifetime earned run average of 3.12.
Mr. Clemens, who turned 48 this month, is ninth on the all-time wins list and was an 11-time all-star selection.
The Clemens matter was the second referral the congressional committee made to the Justice Department. The other involved 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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