The response from former star pitcher Roger Clemens was not a surprise. He entered a plea of "not guilty" to six counts of false testimony for statements made before a Congressional hearing:
"... Clemens, 48, entered a plea of "Not guilty, your honor" to U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, after being arraigned on one count of obstruction of Congress, two counts of perjury and three counts of making false statements in his February 2008 testimony to staff investigators and a hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform."
Thus begins the judicial chapter of Clemens baseball career. At the heart of the matter is testimony that is contrary to Clemens' assertion that he did not use steroids and performance enhancing drugs. His former trainer, Brian McNamee, has given evidence that Clemens indeed did use these chemical assists to augment his baseball performance. Former team mate, Andy Petitte, also have given evidence counter to Clemens' testimony.
The ramifications of these proceedings will entangle baseball directly. At question is the integrity of the baseball itself. Are the records to be believed when so many baseball stars have admitted to using drugs to augment performance? Certainly, the actions (or lack of actions) by baseball commissioner Bud Selig will be called into question.
Roger Clemens has a tough battle in the court of public opinion. The examples of star athletes denying and then admitting to the drug use are numerous. Marion Jones, for example, served a prison sentence for false statements
to investigators about her involvement with performance enhancing drugs.
Long time baseball fans will see the parallels between Clemens and former baseball star Pete Rose. For years, Pete Rose denied his involvement with gambling. Rose has been banned from baseball. He was not been acknowledged in the baseball hall of fame. Rose is not allowed any contact with major league baseball, although there is some discussion about Commissioner Bud Selig lifting the ban
One wonders if Roger Clemens is following a similar career arc as Pete Rose. It may be that, no matter what the outcome of the judicial proceedings, Roger Clemens may not see induction into the baseball hall of fame during his lifetime. In effect, one of the star baseball athletes may be taking steps to becoming a 'persona non grata' in his sport.
History sometimes does repeat.
Roger Clemens - August 30, 2010
[photo credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst]