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7:14 PM Fri, Nov. 16th

Column: Clemens trial waste of taxpayers' money

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens pauses as he speaks to the media outside federal court in Washington, Monday, June 18, 2012, after he was acquitted on all charges by a jury that decided that he didn't lie to Congress when he denied using performance -enhancing drugs. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens pauses as he speaks to the media outside federal court in Washington, Monday, June 18, 2012, after he was acquitted on all charges by a jury that decided that he didn't lie to Congress when he denied using performance -enhancing drugs. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The verdict is in and Roger Clemens was acquitted on all six charges of obstruction and lying to Congress.

Surprised? Not me. The government's case relied primarily on the testimony of an individual, Brian McNamee, who is every bit as flawed as Clemens himself. Clemens is a liar, a cheat, and a self-centered egomaniac who didn't hesitate to throw his wife under the bus as an HGH user because he thought it would bolster his case.

Despite the verdict, I'm convinced Roger used PEDs. I'm also convinced he lied to Congress during his testimony in 2008. But so what? What business is it of Congress if an athlete uses PEDs? That's an issue for the athlete's governing body and at the time Roger and other baseball players were juicing, neither MLB nor the players' union gave a hoot about it.

As for being less than truthful to Congress, Congressmen (and women) lie to the American people on a regular basis and are rewarded for it by getting reelected and by having the best benefits - medical care and retirement - of any worker in the country. The last thing they should be concerned about is one of us lying to them.

If you're keeping score, the government is batting nearly zero in its campaign against athletes using illegal drugs. After a nearly seven-year witch hunt which cost taxpayers an estimated $50 million, Barry Bonds was acquitted of perjury. However, prosecutors can claim a moral victory because the jury convicted Bonds of one count of obstruction. That conviction is currently on appeal.

Earlier this year, the government elected to drop its nearly two-year investigation of cyclist Lance Armstrong. They declined to give any reason for the dismissal after spending - wasting - millions of our dollars, but it doesn't take a genius to read between the lines: The government could hardly afford a second Bonds-like fiasco. And convicting Armstrong shaped up to be a greater challenge than convicting Bonds. Armstrong is a seven-time Tour de France winner and unlike Bonds, is admired world wide for his charitable efforts involving cancer.

Unfortunately for the feds, the Clemens investigation, stemming from a complaint lodged by Congress, had already passed the indictment stage by the time the Bonds verdict was rendered and there was no turning back. To do so would have left the government open to charges of favoritism, or worse, racism.

So when is enough, enough? How much of our money has to be wasted on "trophy" trials that result in acquittals before the government changes its foolhardy ways? If you think we might have seen the end of this nonsense, you'd be wrong.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency announced last week that it is filing formal accusations against Armstrong in an effort to strip him of his Tour de France victories. While USADA is theoretically an independent agency, it receives a portion of its funding from the U.S. Congress. Additional funding comes from the U.S. Olympic Committee, which receives a chunk of its funding from - you guessed it - the U.S. Congress. It doesn't take a genius to connect the dots: Taxpayers will continue to be abused while the USADA pursues its vendetta against Armstrong.

Despite my belief that Clemens is both a liar and a cheat, I would have voted with the jury and found him not guilty of all charges. Furthermore, if I was a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America, I wouldn't hesitate to include Clemens on my Hall of Fame ballot this winter when he comes up for election for the first time. His accomplishments on the diamond merit first ballot enshrinement in the Hall. Ditto for Barry Bonds, who like Clemens will also appear on the ballot for the first time. If they used PEDs, they weren't alone. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of players were guilty of seeking a little help from the bottle during the steroid era and it's not up to us to sit in judgment.

The steroid era in baseball is over. There's more evidence on that than the government was able to muster during Clemens' seven-week trial. One need only check individual and team stats over the past several years. It's time to move on, in baseball and in the legal system, something government prosecutors can't seem to understand.