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Clemons walks: Legendary pitcher acquitted of perjury charges

As a pitcher, Houston resident Roger Clemons was known for his ability to pitch his way out of sticky situations. Though he was one of baseball's most dominant pitchers for many seasons, a 7-year federal investigation and 10-week trial related to alleged illegal steroid use has defined the most recent phase of his life.

Despite the extraordinary amount of resources used to prosecute his case, Clemons was finally cleared of all drug-related charges, which stemmed from accusations of lying under oath during a Congressional investigation into drug offenses in professional baseball. Clemons was accused of using steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs to improve his game, accusations he has always denied.

As we reported earlier on this blog, Clemons and his defense team worked hard to refute the prosecution's evidence. The focus of the defense was discrediting the primary witness, a former strength trainer who claims he provided performance-enhancing drugs to Clemons and other players. The physical evidence provided by the prosecution was a syringe, supposedly containing the player's DNA, which was stored in a beer can in the trainer's closet for at least six years. The viability of this evidence was put under serious scrutiny. Even the prosecution indicated that the witness was "flawed," due to documented dishonesty in the past.

The defense strategy proved to be effective, as the jury did not believe there was indisputable evidence to reach a guilty verdict. The ruling comes after a long series of missteps committed by prosecutors, including a mistrial sparked by inadmissible evidence being used in court.

Certainly, Clemons and his family are relieved that he has been cleared of all the perjury charges, but the fight to protect his legacy is just beginning. Even Clemons himself admitted that this trial has permanently tarnished his reputation. Anyone facing drug-related charges knows that the consequences of an accusation alone can be felt for a lifetime.

At this point, Clemons is unsure if he will be admitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame, an achievement that would easily be secured when considering for his career statistics alone. However, the negative attention brought to Clemons' name due to the trial could hinder his bid. The hope is that the complete acquittal will give him the chance to clear his name.

Source: CBS News, "Roger Clemens acquitted on all charges in perjury trial," June 18, 2012

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