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Federal Grand Jury Indicts Former Major League Baseball Pitcher Roger Clemens

Roger Clemens leaves a hearing room after testifying about allegations of steroid use by professional ball players before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Feb. 13, 2008.
Roger Clemens leaves a hearing room after testifying about allegations of steroid use by professional ball players before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Feb. 13, 2008.

Former New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens, who testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2008, with his former trainer, Brian McNamee, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C.

According to the Department of Justice, he has been "charged with one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury."

You can read the six-count indictment after the jump.

"The Department of Justice takes referrals from Congressional Committees very seriously," U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. said in a statement. "Americans have a right to expect that witnesses who testify under oath before Congress will tell the truth."

Our government cannot function if witness are not held accountable for false statements made before Congress. Today the message is clear: if a witness makes a choice to ignore his or her obligation to testify honestly, there will be consequences."

The charges stem from the testimony Clemens gave in 2008 on his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.

In a statement posted on his Twitter account, Clemens denied the charges.

"I never took HGH or Steroids. And I did not lie to Congress. I look forward to challenging the Governments accusations, and hope people will keep an open mind until trial," he said. "I appreciate all the support I have been getting. I am happy to finally have my day in court."

Clemens' attorney, Rusty Hardin, said the government offered Clemens a plea bargain, but Clemens rejected it.

NPR's Tom Goldman tells All Things Considered host Robert Siegel the indictment lays out the history, leading up to the moment when Clemens allegedly lied to Congress, starting with the 2005 congressional hearing on baseball and performance-enhancing drugs.

That hearing led to the 2007 Mitchell Report, which alleged that Clemens used anabolic steroids and human growth hormone on multiple occasions between 1998 and 2001 when he played for the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Yankees.

Clemens denied the allegations and testified before Congress in 2008.

At the time, Clemens defiantly said: "If I'm guilty of anything, it's of being too trusting of everyone, wanting to see the best in everyone, being too nice to everyone.

"If I'm considered to be ignorant of that, then so be it. I've chosen to live my life with a positive attitude yet I'm accused of being a criminal and I'm not supposed to be angry about that. If I keep my emotions in check, then I'm accused of not caring. When I did speak out, I was accused of protesting too much, so I'm guilty.

"When I kept quiet at the advice of my attorney, until he could find out why in the world I was being accused of these things, I must have had something to hide, so I'm guilty.

"People who make false accusations should not be allowed to define another person's life."

Thursday's indictment says Clemens obstructed the inquiry with 15 statements that he made under oath -- repeated denials that he had ever used steroids or HGH.

But Clemens' attorney, Hardin, denied the charges.

"Roger did not use steroids. He did not use HGH. And he didn't lie to Congress," Hardin said.

The accusations against Clemens came principally from Brian McNamee, the personal trainer who testified in 2008 that he injected Clemens more than a dozen times with steroids and HGH from 1998 to 2001. He turned over what he said was physical evidence of Clemens' doping, including syringes and gauze pads. Both The New York Times and The Washington Post reported that tests on that evidence revealed the presence of steroids in Clemens' DNA.

Clemens has maintained McNamee is lying.

Also, Clemens' New York Yankees teammate and longtime friend pitcher Andy Pettitte, who admitted to using HGH, told investigators that Clemens told him that he [Clemens] also used HGH.

Clemens denied that during the 2008 congressional hearing.

"He misremembers the conversation that we had," he said.

Goldman says that judging by the initial reaction from Clemens and his lawyer, the case will head to court.

Clemens faces a combined maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of $1.5 million, but he would likely end up serving between 15 and 21 months, Goldman says.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

David Gura
Based in New York, David Gura is a correspondent on NPR's business desk. His stories are broadcast on NPR's newsmagazines, All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and he regularly guest hosts 1A, a co-production of NPR and WAMU.

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