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Wed, 20 Jun 2012 05:00 PM EDT

Former baseball star Roger Clemens was acquitted on all charges that he obstructed and lied to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs as a fast-balling pitcher. NFL betting lines

Clemens, 49-year-old, was charged with two charges of perjury, 3 charges of making fake statements and one count of obstructing Congress when he gave evidence at a deposition and at a nationally televised hearing in Feb 2008. The charges targeted on his repeated denials that he used steroids and growth hormone during a 24-year career produced 354 wins and a record 7 Cy Young Awards.

The decision was the most recent blow to the government’s legal pursuit of athletes charged with unlawful drug use.

A 7-year enquiry into home run king Barry Bonds yielded a guilty decision on only one charge of obstruction of justice in a San Francisco court last year, with the jury deadlocked as to whether Bonds lied to a grand jury when he denied deliberately taking performance-enhancing drugs.

The government’s case relied heavily on the testimony of Clemens’ longtime strength coach, Brian McNamee, who testified he injected Clemens with steroids in 1998, 2000 and 2001 and with HGH in 2000. McNamee produced a needle and other materials he revealed were from steroids injection of Clemens in 2001, things that McNamee stated that he stored in and around a beer can within a box for some 6 years.

But McNamee was the only person to claim 1st hand understanding of Clemens using steroids and HGH, and even prosecutors conceded their star witness was a “flawed man.” Clemens’ lawyers relentlessly attacked McNamee’s credibility and integrity. They illuminated that his story had changed over time and implied that he conjured up the allegations against Clemens to calm federal investigators.

Clemens’ lawyers contended that the pitcher’s success resulted from a 2nd-to-none work ethic and an intense workout program dating to his high school days. They said that Clemens was indeed injected by McNamee — but the needles contained the vitamin B12 and the anesthetic lidocaine and not performance-enhancing drugs.

Monday’s verdict is not very likely to settle the matter in sports circles as regards whether Clemens cheated in the latter levels of an extraordinary career that extended well into his 40s — during a period in which performance-enhancing drug taking in baseball was considered to be prevalent. Clemens himself told Congress at the 2008 hearing that “no matter what we discuss here today, I’m never going to have my name restored.”

A crucial barometer comes next year, when Clemens’ name appears on the Hall of fame ballot for the 1st time. His statistical data may normally make him a shoo-in for baseball’s best honor, but voters have been unwilling to induct premier players — like Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro — whose careers were contaminated by allegations of drug use.

Clemens capped a superb career with anti ageing performances well into his 40’s. He went 18-4 and won his 7th Cy Young Award at the age of 41, and the following year posted a career-best 1.87 ERA, his 4,672 strikeouts ranked 3rd in baseball record.

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