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Prof. McCann Explores Truths, Myths about Roger Clemens Trial

May 3, 2012

In his latest Sports Illustrated column, Vermont Law School Professor Michael McCann discusses myths and truths about the U.S. Justice Department's prosecution of former baseball star Roger Clemens and about the Congressional hearing on the clinical effects of HGH, vitamin B-12 and other performance-enhancing drugs and motivations for athletes to use them.

"As the Roger Clemens trial plods along, many are asking, in one form or another: Why did Congress waste millions of our tax dollars to investigate if a baseball player used steroids?" wrote McCann, one of the nation's leading sports law experts and the director of VLS's Sports Law Institute. He also is a legal analyst for Sports Illustrated and the "Sports Law" columnist on CNNSI (SI.com).Image of McCann

"It's a question that has been repeatedly asked since Clemens testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Feb. 13, 2008 and defiantly claimed that he had never used illegal steroids or Human Growth Hormone. The committee's doubts about Clemens' truthfulness led to an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, a nearly 16-month grand jury proceeding, perjury charges, a mistrial last summer and, finally, a new trial. All told, millions of tax dollars have been spent by the federal government investigating and prosecuting Clemens.

"The lingering belief that the Congressional hearings and subsequent developments were all a foolish use of government time and money has not gone away. Prospective jurors even admitted to U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton that they felt the Congressional hearings were wasteful. One potential juror went so far to describe it as 'a little bit ridiculous' that Congress would investigate Clemens instead of numerous matters more crucial to the nation. As expected, attorneys for Clemens have tried to capitalize on this sentiment in their defense. They hope to persuade jurors to nullify the government's case on grounds that it never should have been brought to trial.

"While there are legitimate criticisms of the investigation and prosecution of Clemens, myths and falsehoods about the infamous Congressional hearing in 2008 have emerged and are worthy of correction. You may even come to believe Congress was right, or at least justified, in calling Clemens to testify."

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