Had any of the players broken a MLB rule or regulation? No. Major League Baseball had not yet banned the use of these drugs. Had the players violated an unwritten code of professionalism and fair play? Perhaps, but if so, they sure had a lot of company.        

Just recently Roger Clemens was indicted by a federal grand jury. The criminal charges against him do not involve violating any drug laws. Instead he is accused of perjury. Perjury can be a very serious offense. Lying to a judge or jury can send an innocent man to prison or set a guilty man free. But the perjury involved here will do neither. After Mitchell issued his report, Clemens, among others, flatly denied the truth of it.

The United States Congress, deciding that this was an issue of national importance, summoned a group of players, including Clemens, to testify under oath. Unlike Mark McGwire, who declined to answer any questions, Clemens took an oath and testified that his record breaking career couldn't possibly be due to performance enhancing drugs since he had never taken any.  Now he is being charged with lying to Congress about his denial of the truth of the Mitchell Report. Got that? That's the government's entire case against him. Now what on earth was Congress doing spending 7 days--more days than were spent debating the merits of the Iraq War--investigating the truth of a report that they neither ordered nor authorized? 


Clemens might well have taken steroids. He might have lied about it too. Do you think we should literally make a federal case out of that? Some students take Adderall so they can focus better and gain an edge over their classmates; some musicians take beta blockers so they will be less nervous when competing during auditions; and of course many athletes take steroids or other drugs in order to outperform their peers.  It should come as no surprise that a culture, which so strongly prizes winning, produces so many people who eagerly look for performance enhancing options, including drugs. Where should we draw the line? Is everyone cheating? After all, in America we want winners, not losers.

Public sentiment has clearly shifted against the players named in the Mitchell report. The all-but-certain Hall of Fame inductions now seem highly improbable.  But our culture hasn't really changed. We still want to be on the winning side--just make sure those home runs and strikeouts are for our team.  Perhaps we should rethink our priorities and reflect upon whether we really want to continue promoting a 'win at all costs' mentality.

And speaking of shifts in public sentiment, maybe Congress and the Justice Department should reflect upon whether investigating and prosecuting Roger Clemens is what the American public thinks is the best use of their time and our tax dollars. Something tells me they may be a bit too far off-base.

The author an attorney and executive producer of Bigger, Stronger, Faster -- a 2008 documentary film about the use of anabolic steroids as performance-enhancing drugs in the United States and how this practice relates to the American Dream.