Clemens dodges high heat

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens, right, speaks outside the federal court in Washington, Monday, June 18, 2012, after his acquittal on charges of lying to Congress in 2008 when he denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs. With Clemens are his wife and sons, from left, Kory, Koby, Debbie, Kacy and Kody Clemens. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Jonathan Warner,

WASHINGTON – Is anyone really surprised that Roger Clemens was found not guilty?

The jury either felt there wasn’t enough evidence or the punishment didn’t fit the crime.

Clemens could have faced up to 30 years in a federal prison if found guilty of lying to Congress about taking performance enhancing drugs.

The jury of eight women and four men described themselves as “not really being baseball fans.” This made them the right people to hear this trial. They weren’t swayed by his accomplishments on the field one way or the other.

No matter what you think of Clemens – whether he lied or not – this case shouldn’t have come to trial. First of all, this wasn’t a congressional issue. Our lawmakers have enough they can’t handle already.

Yes, drugs are a stain on sports. But each league and organization should handle the situation on their own as they’re best equipped to dish out testing and punishment. Prosecutors don’t need to spend taxpayer money on a high profile witch hunt.

Baseball, football, cycling and the like have had some success in dealing with drugs in sports. At times it seems the athletes are a step or two ahead of the testing process. But we’re seeing some progress. Just look at baseball’s power numbers — they’re the lowest in decades. Where are all those big, juiced up hitters now? Pitchers rule again.

Players face suspensions if they test positive for drugs. Manny Ramirez is one of the latest examples.

Cycling has banned many riders, including stripping the titles from two Tour De France winners.

The NFL has been handing out a number of drug-related suspensions in recent years.

Barry Bonds may have been Exhibit A when it comes to steroid use, but federal prosecutors in San Francisco last year obtained just one conviction in an investigation that lasted more than seven years.

Bonds was found guilty of misleading a grand jury about his use of performance enhancing drugs.

That got him a whopping 30 days of house arrest.

A two-year federal investigation of Lance Armstrong regarding doping while racing was dropped in February.

Lots of times, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. People will come to their own conclusions, trial or no trial. But, again, this is a sports issue, a testing issue, not something that needs to be dragged through our courts.

One thing is clear, though. Baseball needs to confront its steroid era. The sooner the better. It may be damaging at first, but it’s like ripping off a Band-Aid. The pain will be over a lot quicker than this dribble and drab of names that are revealed every year.

Right now, some of MLB’s all-time greatest players may not be elected to the Hall of Fame due to their alleged association with steroids. The list includes Bonds, who has hit the most homeruns; Sammy Sosa, the only player to hit more than 60 in a season three times; Mark McGwire – tenth on the career home run list; Rafael Palmeiro, only the fourth player with 3,000 hits and 500 homers; plus Clemens, third-most in strikeouts and ninth in wins.

Baseball needs to set guidelines on their eligibility for Cooperstown. Commissioner Bud Selig can’t rely on the courts or Baseball Writers Association to deal with an era he wishes would go away.

At least he’s been tackling the drug issue since then.

Follow Jonathan and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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