UPDATE #2: Clemens response. Conte quote added.
UPDATE: Clemens has been indicted on 6 charges. Document added.
THIS IS BREAKING NEWS...
Federal prosecutors have indicted Roger Clemens accusing the legendary pitcher and reputed steroid user of perjuring himself in his testimony to Congress regarding steroid use in baseball, according to Michael Schmidt of the New York Times.
The charge centers around the contradictions between Clemens and former trainer Brian McNamee:
The indictment comes nearly two and half years after Clemens and his former trainer Brian McNamee testified under oath at a hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, directly contradicting each other about whether Clemens had used the banned substances.
Read the Grand Jury Indictment
The indictment has 1 count of Obstruction of Congress, 3 counts of False Statements, and 2 counts of Perjury. The Grand Jury Indictment cites 15 instances of Clemens obstructing Congress.
“Our government cannot function if witnesses are not held accountable for false statements made before Congress,” said Ronald C. Machen Jr., the United States attorney for the District of Columbia. “Today the message is clear: if a witness makes a choice to ignore his or her obligation to testify honestly, there will be consequences.”
Clemens responded via Twitter by saying, "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. I appreciate all the support I have been getting. I am happy to finally have my day in court."
(READ THE GRAND JURY INDICTMENT AGAINST CLEMENS)
Clemens lost an appeal in the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals on August 12th in the defamation suit he brought against McNamee. The suit was dismissed by the district judge, Keith Ellison, who declared that the court did not have jusridiction over the matter. The ruling upheld Ellison's decision that a federal court in Houston could not serve as arbiter over "Clemens' claims involving statements McNamee made in New York." Clemens' legal team had not announced plans to appeal to the Supreme Court or to the full 5th Circuit, but did not take that option off the table.
McNamee has alleged that he injected Clemens with both steroids and human growth hormone numerous times, which Clemens has steadfastly denied. If indicted, Clemens will be the third baseball player to face charges stemming from the federal crackdown on performance enhancing drugs in professional sports. Charges are still pending against Barry Bonds. Barring another setback for the federal prosecutors his trial is slated to begin on March 21, 2011. Miguel Tejada pled guilty to a reduced charge of lying to Congress and was sentenced to one year of probation and fined.
Victor Conte, the former head of BALCO that supplied several high-profile athletes with performance-enhancing substances said, in a statement:
"The indictment of Roger Clemens comes as no surprise to me. In my opinion, the case against Clemens is far stronger than the case against Barry Bonds. Brian McNamee is an eye witness who will testify against Clemens and there appears to be strong physical evidence against him as well. The government simply does not have this type of evidence against Bonds. I believe Roger Clemens is in a lot of trouble."
We will have more updates as new information becomes available.
Maury Brown contributed to this article
Joe Tetreault is Managing Editor of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball
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