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Roger Clemens can run but he won’t be hiding. In this case, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner is actually running toward a major league problem. Clemens, 48, was charged with three counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice in regard to his testimony during the now notorious nationally televised hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in February of 2008. Clemens has been the most defiant of any accused MLB player, Rafael Palmeiro and Barry Bonds included. Clemens now earns the equivocal distinction of being the third celebrated athlete to be charged with lying and his on-field accomplishments have been temporarily rendered moot.
Using the other two athletes as a metric, the future does not look bright for The Rocket. Bonds, baseball’s all-time home run leader, is scheduled for trial in March under similar charges stemming from his involvement with the ubiquitous Bay Area Laboratory Co-op scandal. Marion Jones, also a BALCO client, won five medals over a glorified Olympic career as a sprinter. Like Clemens, Jones looked everyone in the eye while offering staunch denials. After charges rained down upon her, she wisely plead guilty in 2007. Jones served six months in federal prison for the incident.
Clemens’ troubles are mostly traced to his former trainer Brian McNamee, who alleged that his client knowingly used both steroids and human growth hormone. Their contradictory statements led to a public back-and-forth with Clemens assuming the role of schoolyard bully. The Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan has often noted that Clemens is a strange individual, capable of convincing himself of almost anything. Ryan trumpeted the same sentiment on Thursday’s edition of Pardon the Interruption on ESPN, saying that it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that Clemens still thinks he is innocent, despite the heap of mounting evidence against him.
If convicted, Clemens could face up to 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine, though legal experts forecast a 15- to 21-month sentence if convicted. Like Jones, a plea-bargain would likely lessen his sentence further. Clemens, however, has shown zero signs of backing down, and actually says he is looking forward to the legal proceedings.
“I look forward to challenging the Government’s accusations, and hope people will keep an open mind until trial,” Clemens said via Twitter. “I appreciate all the support I have been getting. I am happy to finally have my day in court.”
Unfortunately for Clemens, those open-minded people are few, considering the evidence. At this point, it’s unlikely that Clemens will ever back down in a trial that will surely grant quite a spectacle. For a while, sports fans have debated Clemens’ worthiness regarding the Hall of Fame in light of the PED accusations.
If only that were his biggest problem.