Is The U.S. Government Curing Baseball’s Steroid Problem By Going After Roger Clemens?
Whether or not the six-time American League Cy Young Award winner took steroids or used human-growth hormones or not doesn’t really matter at this point. He’s already been accused by enough former associates, including his former trainer Brian McNamee and New York Yankees teammate Andy Pettitte, for people to lump him into the same category as Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Alex Rodriguez. He’s come under fire from media types and talking heads, who have blamed Clemens’ superiority complex on his unwillingness to admit that he once used steroids and/or HGH. He’s even faced the wrath of Congress and now faces criminal charges and a trial (which started with Clemens’ arraignment in Washington, D.C. yesterday) for allegedly lying to Congress about his use of performance-enhancing substances.
So, basically, Roger Clemens is guilty right now until proven innocent—very, very, very innocent. Yet, the trial that he’s facing at this moment seems intent on getting a different reaction from Clemens. By throwing the possibility of 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine at Clemens, it almost seems as if the U.S. government is challenging the former MLB great and expecting him to back down. It’s almost as if they want to see him break under the pressure of a federal case. It’s almost like they want to wear him down, demoralize him and, ultimately…get him to apologize.
But, is that the U.S. government’s job? While baseball’s steroid problem is more than just a sports story, it’s also been a problem that baseball itself has been slow to correct. By instituting lackluster performance-enhancing drug policies (which are, admittedly, getting better by the year—despite the fact that it may be too little too late), pro baseball has allowed steroids to survive for years now. They’ve pushed guys like Clemens to do everything they can to be their best. They didn’t hand him the ‘roids—but they also didn’t take the proper measures to make sure that he wasn’t taking them from someone else, either.
And now? Well, if we want to get a straight answer out of Clemens, we have to rely on Congress to try and get it. We have to sit back and watch the U.S. government spend thousands of dollars to give Clemens a fair trial. And what are they trying to prove? That he did take performance-enhancing drugs at some point in his career and that he lied while under oath when discussing PEDs in front of Congress back in 2008.
The problem with that is that we’re not going to get a clear-cut answer out of this whole situation, regardless of how the trial goes down. Unless Clemens has a change-of-heart and admits to using steroids and HGH during his career (which, if history is any indication, he won’t), we’ll be stuck with a verdict that either acquits Clemens altogether but doesn’t necessarily clear him of taking PEDs or a guilty verdict that says Clemens lied about taking PEDs—but doesn’t necessarily definitively prove that he took them.
Either way, Roger Clemens will still be guilty in the court of public opinion. Either way, Clemens will maintain his innocence and cry out about the injustice that is him being accused of using PEDs. Either way, baseball will still have one big asterisk attached to the last two decades of baseball.
At this point, no one can cure baseball’s steroid problem. Not Major League Baseball. Not Roger Clemens. Not a judge. Not a lawyer. And, most definitely, not the U.S. government. Can’t we just accept that and move on already?