Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens, center, is applauded...

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens, center, is applauded by his attorneys, Rusty Hardin, right, and Michael Attanasio, left, outside federal court in Washington. Clemens was acquitted on all charges by a jury that decided that he didn't lie to Congress when he denied using performance -enhancing drugs. (June 18, 2012) Credit: AP

Roger Clemens entered no-man's-land Monday. He was acquitted of charges that he committed perjury when he told Congress in 2008 he never took performance-enhancing drugs. After four years of investigation, millions of taxpayer dollars spent and two trial attempts, he's a free man who will never escape.

Few swung at Clemens' fastball of denial. His longevity, his durability and his transformed body say he did use the drugs. The testimony of his friend and former teammate, Andy Pettitte, who admitted using, and of Clemens' trainer, Brian McNamee, added to the evidence. It's the era Clemens played in, though, that makes his seeking an edge so believable.

Seemingly everybody used the drugs, including the game's biggest stars. Major League Baseball hadn't prohibited them, nor did the players union want a ban. Clemens may have seen in these substances the simple chance to remain the Rocket. Was the temptation just too much for him, and his fellow stars, to avoid?

An edge is impossible for many athletes, from high school to the pros, to turn down. The only way to get them to resist is with penalties so harsh the drugs threaten more than they promise.

Clemens, with 354 career wins, will soon appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. His best chance at Cooperstown might be to admit he used drugs, but he can't seem to do that. And that's how he takes the loss -- even though yesterday he posted a win.

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