Baseball great Clemens "totally against" steroids: lawyer

By Ian Simpson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Roger Clemens' lawyer rejected federal charges of perjury against the former pitching star, saying on Tuesday Clemens is opposed to steroid use and simply told the truth in denying he had used them.

"You are sitting in judgment to decide whether it is a crime to deny a crime," attorney Rusty Hardin told jurors in his opening statement at the trial of Clemens, who is charged with lying to Congress in testimony concerning performance-enhancing drugs.

Use of steroids and human growth hormone "was total anathema, totally against everything he stood for," Hardin said.

Clemens, 49, who won the Cy Young Award a record seven times as his league's best pitcher, is being tried for a second time on charges of lying to the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2008 about whether he used performance-enhancing drugs.

Clemens first went on trial last July. U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton declared a mistrial because prosecutors showed jurors a video clip that included material the judge had banned from the case unless it was raised by Clemens' defense team.

Hardin's opening statement on Tuesday was meant to counter charges by prosecutors that Clemens wove a web of deceit to cover up his steroid use.

In his opening statement on Monday, U.S. Attorney Steven Durham said proof that Clemens took steroids includes needles and bloody swabs that independent tests have shown contain the former elite pitcher's DNA and performance-enhancing drugs.

The trial may run as long as six weeks. If convicted, he faces a maximum prison term of 30 years, although under federal sentencing guidelines he would most likely get 15 to 21 months.

Clemens, known as "The Rocket" during his prime, played for Boston, Toronto, Houston and the New York Yankees. He last pitched in 2007.

(Editing by Paul Thomasch and Bill Trott)