Sending a rocket at Roger Clemens

PETER WORTHINGTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:31 PM ET

What’s bothersome about the trial of baseball great Roger Clemens is why the U.S. Congress feels it necessary to get involved in professional sport.

Clemens is on trial for perjury, allegedly lying to a Congressional panel investigating the use of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs among professional athletes.

Clemens has vigorously denied allegations by his former personal trainer, Brian McNamee, a former New York cop, that he administered such drugs to Clemens and he saved needles and swabs to prove his truthfulness if ever there was an investigation.

As well as being charged with lying, Clemens is also charged with six criminal counts including obstruction of Congress.

If found guilty, he could face prison.

Regardless, his pitching record is forever tainted.

It begs the question why Congress is so obsessed with athletes like Clemens, Barry Bonds (found guilty of obstruction in April), Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Mark McGwire and others who may have performance-enhancing medications, but have never stolen, robbed or committed crimes punishable by prison.

Surely the regulation of a particular sport is not the role of Congress.

Most people probably believe Clemens was not truthful about using drugs. Other athletes, like his friend Pettitte (whom McNamee also attended), testified under oath that Clemens took such drugs.

It’s unclear whether Judge Reggie Walton will allow their testimony at Clemens’ trial, which is now underway. Still, the case largely hinges on McNamee’s allegations — he has been given immunity for testifying. And McNamee carries baggage that reflects poorly on his credibility, or so Clemens’ defense team hopes.

What’s sad about Clemens, presuming he may be lying, is that regardless of steroids and such, he is perhaps the most dominant pitcher in the history of major league baseball. His seven Cy Young Awards — two while pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays — and 354 career wins, elevate him to a pedestal almost beyond reach.

The same with Barry Bonds, with his 762 home runs and seven MVP awards. Whatever he may have been taking, was not the sole source of his greatness.

Some feel the records of confirmed steroid-users should have an asterisk attached to them in record books. That’s ridiculous and misleading. Those caught (trapped?) by using such drugs are relatively few, while others get away with it.

Ben Johnson became a pariah when he tested positive for steroids and forfeited his gold medal to the second place finisher Carl Lewis in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

The team of East German swimmers at the 1976 Montreal Olympics all used steroids and set existing records, but weren’t caught.

As for Clemens, his lawyer Rusty Hardin has an impressive reputation and will do what he can to discredit trainer McNamee, including his being questioned by St. Petersburg, Fla., police in 2001 about a sexual assault. Though never charged, USA Today reports McNamee admitted to Congress and prosecutors he gave false statements to the police at that time.

Again, why is Congress so intent on persecuting athletes? With something like 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. has 25% of the world’s prisoner population.

One would think Congress would leave the regulation of professional athletes to respective sports bodies, and quit trying to snooker athletes into lying, so they face criminal trials and add to the already appalling numbers of imprisoned citizens.

What’s bothersome about the trial of baseball great Roger Clemens is why the U.S. Congress feels it necessary to get involved in professional sport.

Clemens is on trial for perjury, allegedly lying to a Congressional panel investigating the use of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs among professional athletes.

Clemens has vigorously denied allegations by his former personal trainer, Brian McNamee, a former New York cop, that he administered such drugs to Clemens and he saved needles and swabs to prove his truthfulness if ever there was an investigation.

As well as being charged with lying, Clemens is also charged with six criminal counts including obstruction of Congress.

If found guilty, he could face prison.

Regardless, his pitching record is forever tainted.

It begs the question why Congress is so obsessed with athletes like Clemens, Barry Bonds (found guilty of obstruction in April), Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Mark McGwire and others who may have performance-enhancing medications, but have never stolen, robbed or committed crimes punishable by prison.

Surely the regulation of a particular sport is not the role of Congress.

Most people probably believe Clemens was not truthful about using drugs. Other athletes, like his friend Pettitte (whom McNamee also attended), testified under oath that Clemens took such drugs.

It’s unclear whether Judge Reggie Walton will allow their testimony at Clemens’ trial, which is now underway. Still, the case largely hinges on McNamee’s allegations — he has been given immunity for testifying. And McNamee carries baggage that reflects poorly on his credibility, or so Clemens’ defense team hopes.

What’s sad about Clemens, presuming he may be lying, is that regardless of steroids and such, he is perhaps the most dominant pitcher in the history of major league baseball. His seven Cy Young Awards — two while pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays — and 354 career wins, elevate him to a pedestal almost beyond reach.

The same with Barry Bonds, with his 762 home runs and seven MVP awards. Whatever he may have been taking, was not the sole source of his greatness.

Some feel the records of confirmed steroid-users should have an asterisk attached to them in record books. That’s ridiculous and misleading. Those caught (trapped?) by using such drugs are relatively few, while others get away with it.

Ben Johnson became a pariah when he tested positive for steroids and forfeited his gold medal to the second place finisher Carl Lewis in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

The team of East German swimmers at the 1976 Montreal Olympics all used steroids and set existing records, but weren’t caught.

As for Clemens, his lawyer Rusty Hardin has an impressive reputation and will do what he can to discredit trainer McNamee, including his being questioned by St. Petersburg, Fla., police in 2001 about a sexual assault. Though never charged, USA Today reports McNamee admitted to Congress and prosecutors he gave false statements to the police at that time.

Again, why is Congress so intent on persecuting athletes? With something like 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. has 25% of the world’s prisoner population.

One would think Congress would leave the regulation of professional athletes to respective sports bodies, and quit trying to snooker athletes into lying, so they face criminal trials and add to the already appalling numbers of imprisoned citizens.


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