Baseball great Roger Clemens entered a not guilty plea Monday to charges of lying to Congress about whether he used steroids or human growth hormone.
Clemens entered his plea in U.S. District Court. The arraignment happened a few blocks away from where the retired pitcher swore under oath that he had not used performance-enhancing drugs.
Federal prosecutors don’t believe him, and charged him with making false statements, perjury and obstruction of Congress.
Clemens says he will fight the charges.
If convicted, he could face up to 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine. However, a conviction could cause catastrophic damage to his reputation, future earning potential and his chances of getting into baseball’s Hall of Fame.
The New York Daily News reports that Clemens and his wife, Debbie, planned to play in the Golf.com World Amateur Handicap Championship in the Myrtle Beach, S.C., area later Monday.
He came to Congress after being mentioned repeatedly in the Mitchell Report – the damning breakdown of the sport’s steroid problem released in 2007.
In front of a House committee the next year, Clemens said: “Let me be clear. I have never taken steroids or HGH.” Before his indictment was handed down Aug. 19, Clemens was offered a plea deal that he turned down, and afterward, he showed no signs of backing down.
“I look forward to challenging the Governments accusations, and hope people will keep an open mind until trial,” Clemens wrote on Twitter after the indictment. “I appreciate all the support I have been getting. I am happy to finally have my day in court.”
His day in court figures to be one of many in the near future for some of baseball’s biggest names – now sullied by steroid-related accusations. All-time home run king Barry Bonds is scheduled to go on trial in March on charges of lying to a federal grand jury when he said he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs.
At the hearing in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Clemens’ former trainer, Brian McNamee, said the pitcher did, in fact, use steroids and HGH. Former teammate Andy Pettitte also told congressional investigators that Clemens told him he had used HGH.
Clemens told Congress that Pettitte “misremembers” the conversation.
All that testimony figures to be rehashed in a trial that could irrevocably tarnish the reputation of one of the most dominant pitchers in history. Over 23 seasons, Clemens recorded 354 wins, 4,672 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.12 – Hall of Fame numbers that might not land him in the Hall of Fame.