Alex Brandon, Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Roger Clemens was acquitted Monday on all charges that he obstructed and lied to Congress in denying he used performance-enhancing drugs to build his long and brilliant career as one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history.
"I'm very thankful," Clemens said, choking up as he spoke after the verdict. "It's been a hard five years," said the pitcher, who was retried after an earlier prosecution ended in a mistrial.
This trial was lengthy, but the deliberations were relatively brief. Jurors returned their verdict after close to 10 hours over several days. The outcome ended a 10-week trial that capped the government's investigation of the pitcher who holds seven Cy Young Awards, emblematic of the league's best pitcher each year.
Emotional hugs among Clemens and family members followed the verdict, including one large group hug in the courtroom. At one point, wife Debbie Clemens dabbed his eyes with a tissue.
Outside, at one point, Clemens stopped to compose himself.
Accused of cheating to achieve and extend his success — and then facing felony charges that he lied about it — he declared, "I put a lot of hard work into that career."
He said he appreciated "my teammates who came in and the emails and phone calls" of support. With his four sons standing behind him, Clemens thanked his attorneys, his family, his sisters and his wife.
His chief lawyer, Rusty Hardin, walked up to a bank of microphones and exclaimed: "Wow!"
Hardin said Clemens had to hustle to get to court in time to hear the verdict. "All of us had told Roger there wouldn't be a verdict for two, three or four days, so he was actually working out with his sons almost at the Washington Monument when he got the call that there was a verdict."
Prosecutors declined to comment as they left the courthouse. But the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a written statement, "The jury has spoken in this matter, and we thank them for their service. We respect the judicial process and the jury's verdict."
Clemens, 49, was charged with two counts of perjury, three counts of making false statements and one count of obstructing Congress when he testified at a deposition and at a nationally televised hearing in February 2008. The charges centered on his repeated denials that he used steroids and human growth hormone during a 24-year career produced 354 victories.
The verdict was the latest blow to the government's legal pursuit of athletes accused of illicit drug use.
A seven-year investigation into home run king Barry Bonds yielded a guilty verdict on only one count of obstruction of justice in a San Francisco court last year, with the jury deadlocked on whether Bonds lied to a grand jury when he denied knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs.
A two-year, multicontinent investigation that looked into possible drug use by cyclist Lance Armstrong was recently closed with no charges brought, though the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency filed formal accusations last week that could strip the seven-time Tour de France winner of his victories in that storied race. Armstrong denies any doping
The Clemens outcome also comes on the heels of the Department of Justice's failure to gain a conviction in the high-profile corruption trial of former presidential candidate John Edwards.
In addition, the first attempt to try Clemens last year ended in a mistrial when prosecutors played a snippet of video evidence that had previously been ruled inadmissible.
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