Chipper takes shots at drug cheaters (though he considered it)

Chipper Jones is in his 20th and possibly final spring training. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Chipper Jones knows when his career is over, he will have done it right way. (Jason Getz/AJC)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – There was a time when he considered it. Chipper Jones thought about taking a pill, sticking a needle in his arm, doing whatever it is cheaters do in hopes of gaining an edge and fooling us into believing the mutant statistics all came about from hard work and whey shakes.

“Yeah. I mean, definitely,” the Braves’ almost-40 third baseman said Monday when asked if he ever considered using performance-enhancing drugs. “You see peers doing it. You see contemporaries on other teams doing it and putting up [big] numbers. But at that point in my career, while I didn’t have kids yet, and I thought, I don’t want to jeopardize their lives [with the backlash] one day.”

On Monday, Braves players were given a presentation from a team doctor on what substances to stay away from.

“I can pretty much recite it from year to year,” Jones said, and the banned list didn’t include the yogurt he happened to be eating at the time.

Jones will go into the Hall of Fame one day. He will be in a special group of players who, as he said, “have done it right. The guys who get done with their career and make it through the so-called steroid era unscathed, that’s a huge feather in our cap.”

There have never been any allegations against Jones. No smoking syringe. No leaked grand jury testimony with his name on it. No chapter in a Jose Canseco book.

Still, Jones’ father wanted to know for sure. “A few years ago,” according to Chipper, the elder Larry Jones asked him point blank if he had ever cheated.

Jones believes "less than one percent" of players in baseball take performance-enhancing drugs, down from "20 percent." (Jason Getz/AJC)

Jones believes "less than one percent" of players in the majors still take performance-enhancing drugs. (Jason Getz/AJC)

“I can just imagine what my dad would’ve said if he found out that four, five or six years out of my career he knew that I was cheating,” Jones said. “He told me as much. He said, ‘Please tell me you never did that.’ I said, ‘I never did.’ He said, ‘I can’t think of anything that would disappointment me more than finding out that you did something like that.’ I said, ‘Well, you don’t have to worry about that.’”

Performance-enhancing drugs are in the news again. Ryan Braun, the National League’s Most Valuable Player last season, failed a drug test last October. He had extraordinarily elevated levels of testosterone. He was suspended for the first 50 games of this season but had the penalty overturned by an appeal. Braun and his legal team did not question the science of the test but rather the protocol, and won the appeal on a technicality: The sample was stored in the tester’s home over a weekend because he believed Federal Express was closed.

Jones understands why Major League Baseball is livid over the arbitration panel’s decision: “Now the integrity of every positive test is going to be scrutinized. They’re going to have to back-check everything,” he said.

But he didn’t openly question Braun.

“I feel like I know Ryan pretty well — he would’ve been one of the guys who never would’ve considered to have done it,” Jones said. “If he went to the lengths that he did to clear his name, I believe him. I just don’t know how someone could be so negligent. If he did [take something], he got lucky. If he didn’t, he was rightly vindicated.”

But haven’t Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens gone to great lengths to clear their names?

“Sure — and did they? Why was [Bonds] convicted of [obstruction of justice]? Why would he lie?”

Jones believes the used of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, while not completely eradicated, is way down. He estimated that at its peak, 20 percent of the league was using, or five players per team. His breakdown:  “I would say one of the numbers producers, one of the stud pitchers and the other two or three were down at the end of the roster, trying to stay out of Triple A.”

And now?

“Less than one percent,” he said. “Guys just don’t do it anymore. You’ve seen what happens to the reputations of the guys who even remotely are considered to have done it. It’s so not worth it.”

He said players in general know who’s using and who isn’t. “Let’s just say there’s an aura about them,” he said, laughing.

For what it’s worth, he said some PED users should be allowed in the Hall, the deciding factor being whether they would have had the credentials without drugs.

That’s not an issue for Jones. He has done it right way and has the credentials: 454 homers, 1,561 RBI, 2,615 hits, a .304 career average.

He turns 40 in April. He has been non-committal about playing after this season, health obviously being a significant unknown. But we can be certain of one thing: He won’t resort to chemistry to play another year.

By Jeff Schultz

241 comments Add your comment

Chris

February 27th, 2012
2:18 pm

This is why he is one of my favorite players of all time. Class act, one of the greatest 3B and switch-hitters of all time. No doubt a first ballot HOFer.

Blindog

February 27th, 2012
2:19 pm

Season almost here….can’t wait!!!!

Thrashers Fan

February 27th, 2012
2:20 pm

Great read!

I’ll be so sad the day Chipper hangs up the cleats and walks away from the game :’(

just sayin'

February 27th, 2012
2:21 pm

will be able to hold his head high..

Paul

February 27th, 2012
2:21 pm

Have to agree with Chipper’s father. Finding out Chipper ever used PED’s would be the final straw that breaks my faith in Major League Baseball.

joey

February 27th, 2012
2:21 pm

Blindog

February 27th, 2012
2:22 pm

Thanks Jeff… as always great work.

Voice of Reason

February 27th, 2012
2:22 pm

Great article about a truly great player.

Tim

February 27th, 2012
2:23 pm

And this folks is why everyone young baseball should look up to Chipper Jones as a role model for how to play baseball the right way! Thanks Chipper!

Brandon f

February 27th, 2012
2:24 pm

Good spelling Schultz. Who wrote the article? Your kids?

Sose

February 27th, 2012
2:25 pm

I’m glad that Chipper never resorted to using PED’s. I do agree with him that some of the persons who have been caught still deserve HOF consideration. If they let Gaylord Perry in, for example, then Clemens and Bonds, and few others, also should be in. I also think it’s a shame that Rose isn’t in there! I guess I’ve just come to accept the fact that baseball players are humans, they make mistakes too. Not all of them deserve a “death sentence” when it comes to the HOF.

Vanakatherock

February 27th, 2012
2:34 pm

Well, when he’s finally done, he’ll have a hitting coach job waiting for him after he retires, here in Atlanta.

phil

February 27th, 2012
2:34 pm

I take him at his word. Play til you’re 50, Chipper.

Why wasn’t he asked which of his teammates did this stuff? He wouldn’t have said, of course, but WAS the question asked?

And Fire FG!!

RICO

February 27th, 2012
2:37 pm

I’ll go ahead and say it since nobody else did…FIRST!!!! C’mon

UGABugKiller

February 27th, 2012
2:38 pm

I’ll be honest…

… I always, in the back of my mind, wondered about his 1999 MVP season. The career-highs, and then, the nagging injuries that followed the next few years in particular, from a guy who was like steel before.

But I believe in Chipper Jones here. If he says he didn’t, I believe him. I’ll no longer worry about the 1999 season, or wonder if we’ll hear something 10 years down the line.

Chipper’s word is good enough for me.

Benjamin

February 27th, 2012
2:38 pm

I will admit here that I always thought he did use PEDs.

Good read. The discussion with his dad was a great excerpt.

Well...

February 27th, 2012
2:40 pm

Didn’t Rose bet against the team he was managing? That’s worse than steroids in my book, because he actually had control over an entire team, not just his own body.

George Stein

February 27th, 2012
2:44 pm

Is this where we say that the yogurt he was eating was probably frozen yogurt (covered in sprinkles and chocolate sauce)?

ohhhYEAH

February 27th, 2012
2:51 pm

Firstly, I do think Chipper is, and always has been clean. He’s just a great player.
However, I disagree completely that “some players who have done PEDs should be allowed in if they would have had the creds without them,” becuase theres NO WAY to know which part of their performance was due to the drugs and which weren’t, there’s just no way.
Also, I do think it’s a shame that Pete Rose isnt in the HOF. Sure, he was a moron for betting against his team and tanking games while he MANAGED, but that has absolutely no effect on the way he played the game. So don’t let him in the HOF as a manager, but DONT keep him out of the Hall for what he did on the field, it robs baseball of a truly great player.

ATL Fan

February 27th, 2012
2:54 pm

Ryan Braun will always have the guilt of PED use against unless he can prove his innocents. It would require that he prove that someone tampered with his sample. Otherwise, he tested positive and avoided a suspension because of a 2-1 decision that the sample was not properly handled. (Not that it was an incorrect test result).
This should scare all MLB players. Stay away, far away from anything that could provide a positive (even a false positive). It ain’t worth it.

coach joe

February 27th, 2012
2:56 pm

Nice read. If Chipper juiced,I would give up baseball for good.

Go Braves..

ATL Fan

February 27th, 2012
2:56 pm

(Forgive the typo “innocence”)

J

February 27th, 2012
2:59 pm

Jones understands why Major League Baseball is lived over the arbitration panel’s decision

You mean livid, right?

PMC

February 27th, 2012
3:06 pm

So he’s saying that he won’t have to explain one day why the urine sample give has say a 20-1 ratio of testosterone in it?

PMC

February 27th, 2012
3:08 pm

*that he gave

1eyedJack

February 27th, 2012
3:13 pm

Take it from someone who had to take steroids “legally” for 9 years. If your life don’t depend on them don’t do them. I’m still dealing with the side effects 15 years later.

CT Braves Fan

February 27th, 2012
3:15 pm

Rose never bet against his team or tanked games. He always bet on this team to win. The problem with that is it still leads to questionable decision making (e.g. did he burn out his bullpen to win a particular game since he wasn’t betting on the next day’s game etc.). Every MLB clubhouse has had signs posted and known that “thou shalt not gamble.” Rose deserves to be outside the HOF for doing what he did, even though he bet for his team to win.

Kevin

February 27th, 2012
3:15 pm

Just look at Julio Franco. If you take care of your body the right way, you can play well into your 40’s.

wxwax

February 27th, 2012
3:22 pm

I just wish somebody, somewhere, would take MBL to task for leaking information.

The testing is supposed to be confidential. But MLB is trying to cover-up its mistake in the testing protocol by leaking all of Braun’s tests results.

Regardless of Braun’s guilt or innocence. MLB is clearly violating part of the agreement.

Why should any player help or respect MLB’s testing program when baseball’s vindictive hierarchy responds to its own protocol violations by smearing the player in a tidal wave of leaks?

what of it?

February 27th, 2012
3:24 pm

Would love to see an expose on the teams who benefited the most from the steroid era. I’m pretty sure the Yankees would lead that list. I don’t think anyone could accuse chipper of using PED’s either, given how frequently he was injured throughout his career.

Stuart

February 27th, 2012
3:28 pm

Jones understands why Major League Baseball is LIVED over the arbitration panel’s decision…

Jones believes the USED of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, while not completely eradicated, is way down…

Lowcountry Bulldawg

February 27th, 2012
3:29 pm

Agree with UGABugKiller entirely.

Ken Stallings

February 27th, 2012
3:40 pm

Almost unheard of for active players to speak out against HGH and steroids. Good for Chipper! The ultimate proof he’s never used is that his body is declining in the historical way most players see their production decline. It has been no sudden fall off the plateau, but a steady decline year over year.

The travesty of HGH and steroid use is that one does not know what the accepted production level for HoF induction would have been for players in the 1990’s decade. Instead of the uber-inflated offensive statistics (with a few pitchers doing great) perhaps we would have seen another decade where 30 home runs was an excellent power season. The doping in baseball made it where 30 homers was considered above average and it took a 40 or 50 homer season to make a mark for yourself. It took 60 plus homers to claim an historic season.

What this did was skew the playing field. Marginal players who were honest were sent down to the minors or outright released. Very good players were denied their recognition as excellent players. Excellent players were perhaps denied candidacy for the Hall of Fame. The players who did the drugs cheated their fellow players who did not.

kman

February 27th, 2012
3:41 pm

He cheats on his former wife, not at sports. Class Act…whatever!

CJJScout

February 27th, 2012
3:42 pm

Class act? I like the guy but I wouldn’t say that. Hooters girl and hating on the ATL saying he would have been a stockbroker if he had known what he was getting into… Sours it for me. First ballot HOFer, would be a shame if he wasn’t because he has earned it but he hasn’t always been squeaky clean.

Ken Stallings

February 27th, 2012
3:44 pm

BTW: The MLB Network’s Prime 9 for best nine third basemen in baseball history had two Braves on it: Chipper at number five, and Eddie Matthews at number two. That’s really an amazing feat for the Braves franchise to have two players on the list of the best third basemen in baseball history!

Ryan

February 27th, 2012
3:49 pm

Here is something that excites me. If he hits 16 HR, 125 hits this year and plays enough to vest 2013 and then does the same in ‘13, he would have a serious chance at 3000 hits and 500 HRs and may just force the Braves into a final, one year deal to chase history. The only thing that I have ever thought would stop this pursuit would be the idea of his average dropping under .300, which would probably happen with three more full seasons.

rrr

February 27th, 2012
3:51 pm

I am a Braves fan, but, it is silly to think that we didn’t have any users during the steriod era. Bret Boone, Caminiti, Gant, Julio Franco, Marcus Giles, and, yes, Chipper were all larger dudes during this time. Not to say that they were all guilty, but, it is naive to think that they were all innocent, either.

doc

February 27th, 2012
3:55 pm

folks the vote is rigged. one vote goes to the arbiter, one to major league baseball and one to the union. the vote essentially is correct and this time the process was guilty not the player and the arbitrator was acting in his role completely. i am all for the testing and as a doc knowing the detrimental effects of these things at pharmaceutical doses is profound. i also know that if there is any question to the propriety of the process it should be thrown out as well. mlb needs to once again get its act together and accept responsibility for its error and make it better. it is why these things are evaluated so there is no question in the future of mishandling in any way.

personally i am surprised that chipper can say it as he has looked roided up in the early 2000’s when it first came on the scene. maybe he had a natural efect by weights onl i remember some pretty impressive musculature right before he got his contract and when he had his big home run years in the 40’s. maybe it was only andro which was legal. it was also at a time when ther were other braves looking pretty stout including one second baseman.

Groundhogday

February 27th, 2012
3:58 pm

phil

February 27th, 2012
2:34 pm

I take him at his word. Play til you’re 50, Chipper.

Why wasn’t he asked which of his teammates did this stuff? He wouldn’t have said, of course, but WAS the question asked?

And Fire FG!!

____________________________________________________________________

I believe it’s completely fair to ask Chipper if HE has ever used PEDs; however, a journalist writng a blog asking him to drop a dime on somebody else is way out line. Only someone in an official investigative capacity would be justified in asking him to comment on other players.

Larry

February 27th, 2012
4:03 pm

Tim,

Would you have considered you father a “role model” had he knocked a Hooter’s chick and you had to share your inheritance with a step brother?

I’m not a perfect man either, but I save the “role model” badge for those who truly deserve it, just because I idolize a switch hitting 3rd baseman.

Hankie Aron

February 27th, 2012
4:05 pm

1eyedjack-is that why you only have 1 eye?

StaceyJ

February 27th, 2012
4:06 pm

That is why Chipper Jones is one of the best players in baseball.
No drugs, solid and hontest to everybody. That’s why you don’t hear any of the Braves in trouble with drug testing cause they are a team that is to be respected in that at all times. Cause Chipper and the rest of the Braves, past and present are honest and straighforward and if thier not like Steve Avery was then they are gone and all thier respect is gone forevers..
Chipper is future hall of famer and I think he is too be applauded for that…

don't trust any athlete anymore

February 27th, 2012
4:08 pm

I dunno….so he says he never has. What else is he gonna say? All these self-proclamations are worthless. He had me believing for a second everything printed here until he is quoted as saying about Ryan Braun “if he didn’t, he was rightly vindicated”. Ryan Braun got off on a technicality! Everybody knows that. That is far from vindicated.
And all this union defense and players lying is more disgusting when Chipper says players in general know who’s using and who isn’t. All the players should have confronted all the ones using, in private, and shamed them into stopping so as not to put a black mark on all the “clean” players.
It’s an entire era of baseball players that they’ve allowed themselves and their union to protect.
That lie and protection wound up biting them in the a$$. Remember, it’s the cover up that will get you.

doc

February 27th, 2012
4:08 pm

there is also the issue of mlb leaking the results before there was time to challenge the process. that was a huge no no and if in ant other area could be a law suit in the making. this is huge against testing as done in mlb. to think there was no way this could have been sent immediately? one can only wonder why it was not sent right away and what was the reasoning? in ryan’s case he said there were 5 ups stores within 5 miles of the tests still open immediately after the test was completed and one open until midnight in the area.

if anyone here had had this happen on their job and were to be held a pay check for two months plus the public backlash from the public or peers we would have howled greatly. it is also interesting that ryan retested negative with three days after requesting a retest as soon as he knew the results. the tester has to pass the sniff test 100% of the time and the integrity of the test has to be beyond question or it is rightly voided. shame on mlb for not acknowledging it themselves and voting the way they did rather than say they will do better on further review. it is one more reason for a union.

go play wargames with the animals on your 1000 acres

February 27th, 2012
4:12 pm

Bet he didn’t plan on having Hooters affairs either. Busted on that one too.

fuzzybee

February 27th, 2012
4:16 pm

When Chipper came up he was an athletic shortstop. Within a couple of years he became a home run hitter and started looking much more beefy. Then he started getting hurt a lot which is often a sign that the muscles are too strong for the connecting tissue.

Since we cannot know, I will give him the benefit of the doubt but it doesn’t pass the stink test to me.

screw unions

February 27th, 2012
4:20 pm

most people don’t make in a lifetime of hard work, what an average player makes in one (few year) contract. There are labor laws in place already to protect workers. Got a problem, go to court.

LawDawg

February 27th, 2012
4:20 pm

“For what it’s worth, he said some PED-users should be allowed in the Hall, the deciding factor being whether they would have had the credentials without drums.”

Assuming you meant drugs (not drums), I completely agree. You can disagree with what they did all you want, but Bonds, Clemens, A-Rod, etc., definitely deserve to be in the HOF, because they were the best players of an (admittedly-tainted) era. Sosa and McGwire, etc., or people whose batting average and other non-homer/RBI/slugging numbers are borderline as is.

Bonds and Clemens in particular were Hall of Fame-worthy before anyone can say they took steroids (1998 for Bonds, e.g., when he already had 3 MVPs).

Eddie

February 27th, 2012
4:21 pm

I am like UGABugKiller. I suspected him in 1999, and before the leaked list was destoyed there WAS conjecture. I am glad it never happened, never came to fruition.