A US grand jury charged former Major League Baseball superstar Roger Clemens on Thursday with lying to Congress in 2008 when he denied taking performance-enhancing drugs.
But the legendary pitcher denied he lied to US lawmakers in a Twitter reply to the indictment, saying, “I look forward to challenging the Governments accusations.”
Clemens was indicted on federal charges of false statements to Congress, perjury and obstruction of Congress for claiming at a hearing before US lawmakers that he never took steroids or human-growth hormones.
“I never took HGH or Steroids. And I did not lie to Congress,” Clemens said in a posting on the internet social network. “I look forward to challenging the Governments accusations, and hope people will keep an open mind until trial (link).
“I appreciate all the support I have been getting. I am happy to finally have my day in court,” concluded the “tweet”, which was signed with Clemens’ baseball nickname, “Rocket”.
The Clemens case was assigned to US District Judge Reggie Walton, who handled a similar case against I. Lewis Libby, the former chief of staff of former US Vice President Dick Cheney. No hearing date was set for the case.
Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner as top pitcher, contradicted his former trainer, Brian McNamee, at a February 2008 hearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
McNamee said he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone more than 30 times between 1998 and 2001.
Clemens said that McNamee lied and might have doctored syringes to support his claims, noting McNamee made a deal with federal authorities to avoid being charged with steroid distribution.
“It’s vindication,” McNamee lawyer Earl Ward said of the indictment.
The indictment says Clemens obstructed a Congressional inquiry, lied to Congress and committed perjury with 15 statements made under oath, including his denials of ever taking human growth hormone or steroids.
“I’ve been accused of something I’m not guilty of,” Clemens told lawmakers in 2008. “I’ve never taken steroids or HGH.”
New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettite told federal investigators that Clemens had told him that Clemens had used HGH, a revelation that prompted Clemens to tell Congress that “I believe Andy has misheard”.
Representative Henry Waxman, chairman of the committee when Clemens testified before it, said in a statement that he thought the pitching legend was a liar.
“When a witness, such as Roger Clemens, lies, as I think he did, he should be held accountable,” Waxman said.
The hearing before US lawmakers came two months after McNamee linked Clemens to HGH and steroids in a report by former US Senator George Mitchell examining doping in Major League Baseball.
Clemens pushed for the hearing, saying he wanted it to help clear his name, but the charges that stemmed from it prompted former US Representative Tom Davis, who was on the panel, to call the indictment “a self-inflicted wound”.
Clemens, 48, won 354 games and struck out 4,672 batters while compiling a 3.12 career earned-run average over 23 major league seasons with the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and Houston Astros.