WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former baseball pitching ace Roger Clemens faces a new trial this week on charges he lied to Congress about taking steroids, nine months after a judge stopped his first trial in its opening days because of a misstep by prosecutors.
The seven-timeCy Young Award winner was indicted in 2010 for perjury and obstruction over 2008 testimony to Congress in which he denied taking steroids and human growth hormones. Prosecutors say they have evidence to the contrary, and will seek to discredit Clemens in what promises to be a high-profile trial. District Court Judge Reggie Walton declared a mistrial after two days of arguments during Clemens’ first trial in July 2011. Prosecutors showed jurors a video clip that included material he had banned from the case unless the information was raised by Clemens’ defense team. The trial starts on Monday with jury selection and is expected to last several weeks. Walton agreed to a new trial after prosecutors said the error in the first attempt was not intentional. The allegations that Clemens, 49, used performance-enhancing drugs has raised questions about his record. Known as “The Rocket,” Clemens played for four teams over a 24-year career and his seven Cy Young wins for best pitcher in his league are a record. Clemens is one of the biggest names linked to steroid use in baseball. Other stars who have faced questions about doping include sluggersMark McGwire and Jason Giambi and home-run king Barry Bonds. Doping, or using performance-enhancing substances in professional sports, is not in itself a federal crime – but the government has chosen, with mixed results, to pursue cases against athletes who it believes have either committed fraud or lied when called to testify about using performance-enhancing drugs. In one setback, federal prosecutors in February dropped a two-year investigation centered on whether seven-time Tour De France championLance Armstrong and his teammates cheated the sponsor of their bike racing team with a secret doping program. Armstrong has always vehemently denied using performance-enhancing drugs. Clemens’ lawyers this month objected to prosecutors’ bid to ban some of the arguments he used in last year’s trial. They said prosecutors did not object when those arguments were used in an opening statement. Prosecutors had sought last month to bar defense statements, including suggestions that the government resources used in the case against Clemens were “excessive or wasteful.” During the first trial, Clemens’ defense team referred to more than 100 investigators used in the probe and suggested that the government had spent millions of dollars on the case. They also asked that any reference to the botched first trial be excluded from the second. In the first trial, prosecutors promised several witnesses to prove Clemens took the performance-enhancing drugs and then lied about it, including former teammate Andy Pettitte and his former trainerBrian McNamee. Defense attorneys have branded McNamee a liar and, according to media reports, said at a hearing on Friday they may challenge key physical evidence handed over to prosecutors by the trainer.