Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 5:41 AM
I felt conflicted on Monday when I heard that a federal jury had acquitted former Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens on all six counts related to lying to Congress about taking steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.
As I watched highlights of Roger Clemens testifying before Congress yesterday, it occurred to me that … the more he said, the more he incriminated himself – not only on the settled charge of taking illegal performance-enhancing drugs, but also on the looming charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying about it.
(“Forget the Hall of Fame, Clemens May Have Played His Way into Prison,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 14, 2008)
Then here is what I wrote two years ago when he was duly indicted:
Clemens remains in a state of denial about using steroids… [H]is testimony was strike one; this indictment is strike two; and conviction at trial (or even a plea deal) will be the strike out that ends Clemens’ storied career – not with induction into the Hall of Fame but with incarceration in federal prison.
(“Indictment Is Strike Two against Roger Clemens,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 23, 2010)
So I clearly expected him to be convicted. But here is why, far from being disappointed, I am actually heartened that he was acquitted:
Steroid use has flourished in Baseball (and other professional sports) pursuant to an open conspiracy amongst players and team owners to feed the gladiatorial lust of fans who want to see bigger, stronger, and faster cyborgs perform for their atavistic enjoyment. And, naturally, the more fans revel in their steroid-fueled feats of athleticism, the richer players, and even richer team owners, become.
(“Bonds, Baseball’s MVP, Is a Steroids Junkie … Duh!” The iPINIONS Journal, March 8, 2006)
Forget all of the talk about his use of steroids or putting an asterisk next to his name, Barry Bonds is the new home-run king of Baseball today – having blasted his 756th homer last night on his own field of dreams in San Francisco…
[J]ust as the achievements of players like Babe Ruth have not been diminished even though they drank alcohol during prohibition, the achievements of players like Bonds should not be diminished even though they’re taking steroids today.
(“Bonds Should Be Cheered, Not Jeered…,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 8, 2007)
I believe policing drugs in professional sports is not only Orwellian but utterly futile. After all … athletes have always, and will always, do or take anything that might give them a competitive advantage. And if what they do or take poses no harm to anyone except themselves, who cares?!
This enlightened attitude towards performance-enhancing drugs would have precluded the ‘scandals’ that now threaten the professional careers of Tour de France Champion Floyd Landis and Olympic (100m) Champion Justin Gatlin; to say nothing of sparing them international ridicule as pathetic liars and cheaters.
(“Decriminalize Drugs…Especially in Sports,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 3, 2006)
This is why, even though I believe Clemens belongs in the rogue’s gallery of professional athletes (with the likes of Barry Bonds, Lance Armstrong, and Marion Jones) who have lied infamously about taking steroids, I hope his acquittal helps to advance the cause of decriminalizing drugs in sports.
Let me hasten to clarify, however, that I still believe anyone who lies to federal authorities about taking steroids should be prosecuted. But now that he has been acquitted, I believe Clemens should be admitted to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, unanimously.
Like I said, conflicted….