"Let me be clear. I have never taken steroids or HGH."
That was Roger Clemens nearly two and a half years ago, testifying before Congress that he had never in his career used performance-enhancing drugs. It's a statement that's now haunting the star pitcher. He's just been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly lying during that Congressional hearing; if convicted on all charges, he faces a combined maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine. Beyond possible jail time, the Rocket's future as a Hall of Famer is now in question as well—a mammoth blight on the career of the seven-time Cy Young winner.
Clemens remains steadfast in claiming his innocence when it comes to both steroid use and the perjury charges: "I never took HGH or Steroids. And I did not lie to Congress," he tweeted Thursday after news of the indictment broke. "I look forward to challenging the Governments [sic] accusation and hope people will keep an open mind until trial. I appreciate all the support I have been getting. I am happy to finally have my day in court.
But as other athletes have learned, it may not be the best strategy to be so vocal in denying the charges. At the very least, Clemens has Andy Petite's testimony against him, that Clemens had confided to him that he'd used HGH. So if it turns out that the Rocket has his pants on fire, what's the prognosis for his future? From Marion Jones to Mark McGwire, here's a look at how some of his Pinocchio-sympathizing colleagues have fared, ordered from worst case scenario to best.
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Worst: Marion Jones
Back in 2008, the five-time track and field gold medalist pleaded guilty on two counts of perjury, and was sentenced to six months in prison. She had lied to federal agents about using performance-enhancing in two different investigations, and prosecutors had recommended a jail time range of zero to six months. The fact that she was granted no leniency led many, including Queen Oprah, to believe the judge was making an example of her to deter other athletes from lying. Two years and a seemingly endless stream of untruthful athletes later, will a judge want to make an example again—this time in the form of a 6'4" World Series-winning pitcher?
Slightly Less Worst: Tammy Thomas
Cyclist Tammy Thomas was sentenced to six months of home confinement after being convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying about her steroid use. She denied the usage despite 2002 steroid testing results that came back positive. She was spared a two and a half year prison sentence by a judge who felt it wouldn't be fair considering the "ringleaders" of the BALCO doping investigation were only given four month jail sentences.
While house arrest sounds slightly unpleasant, it may not be completely outrageous to think that a baseball player who reportedly earned $4.5 million a month owns a house that wouldn't be totally heinous to spend six months in. Slightly less worse case scenario.
Still Pretty Bad: Miguel Tejada
All-star shortstop Miguel Tejada faced up to a year of prison time for lying to Congress about his steroid use, but walked away with just one year probation, 100 hours of community service, and a $5,000 fine. The reasoning? According to the case's prosecutor, Tejada's lie (he told Congress "he had no knowledge of other players using or even talking about steroids or other banned substances") was an uncharacteristically bad decision: "Since that point and time, he's made a series of good choices."
The attorney went on to praise Tejada's rags-to-riches upbringing, his mentorship of young ballplayers, and work ethic, citing all as reasons to be lenient with the former juicer. Charitable, humble, and overall pleasant to be around—sounds just like Roger Clemens, right?