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

bake

February 27th, 2012
11:41 pm

selig is a moron. he should be shot on spot because if there ever was a conflict of interest he’s it. rose doesn’t belong in the hall of fame. period. he can get in when he’s dead but he screwed the game so bad he probably doesn’t deserve the joys of going in and giving a speech. and i’ll be happy when chipper retires…only because once he does i know it will be 5 years until he heads to cooperstown.

Greg in New York

February 27th, 2012
11:43 pm

Considering the power numbers that guys like Brady Anderson (50 HR in 1996) and Luis Gonzalez (57 HR & 142 RBI with 24 intentional walks in 2001) put up I can only imagine what Chipper’s numbers would’ve looked like if he’d been a PED user in his prime.

I’ll always appreciate that he was willing to take substantially less money than what he could’ve gotten on the open market to stay with the Braves throughout his career.

And I especially appreciate the fact that a third baseman of his stature willingly moved to left field in the prime of his career (likely to the detriment of his legs ever since) to try to help his team improve its offense.

Understand that Derek Jeter wouldn’t even move to third base when the Yankees traded for a superior defensive shortstop in Alex Rodriguez (speaking of PED users) in 2004.

Chipper’s going to be 40 years old in April and he’s still the last hitter on this team that opposing pitchers and managers want to see at the plate with the game on the line.

If you’re looking for reasons why the Braves don’t win more often than they do I’d suggest that’s a pretty good place to start.

bake

February 27th, 2012
11:43 pm

pete…you take the blog way too serious. did you bet on the reds?

GeorgiaBorn

February 27th, 2012
11:50 pm

No, he didn’t cheat in baseball. He just cheated on his wife.

GA DAWG

February 28th, 2012
12:50 am

Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, ARod, none of them should EVER dart the doors of the HOF. THey can say what they want, they were cheaters.

THanks Chipper for staying clean. You could have probably hit 600 HR’s if you had, but you will go into the HOF doing it right.

AP Fan

February 28th, 2012
2:20 am

Enter your comments here

Braun cheated

February 28th, 2012
2:24 am

Braun is essentially claiming that while his sample was in limbo between the lab and FedEx, someone tainted his sample with testosterone or did the switcheroo and switched his sample with a testosterone laden sample – really, Ryan….seriously

pro

February 28th, 2012
4:23 am

bob horner was better

Lee in S GA

February 28th, 2012
4:59 am

Not saying is is moral or anything but if eveyr man or women that cheated on their spouse was judged the way some of you are being on Chipper may the force be with them. Of course I know some on here have never or would never do anything like that especially with a “hot” Hooter’s girl….just saying.

Dude

February 28th, 2012
6:28 am

No Cheaters should be allowed in the Hall period. Maybe rhe Hall of Shame.

Ian Mackaye

February 28th, 2012
8:07 am

padre

February 28th, 2012
8:07 am

great word from chipper — class act guy. good example of hard word an d endurance. hof in life as well

Shug

February 28th, 2012
8:14 am

So ole Chipper says he didn’t take ‘roids. Ummm. I went back and checked some photos from about 10 years ago–protruding forehead, large jawline, disproportionate muscles. I suppose we can all draw our own conclusions.

BartBuzz

February 28th, 2012
8:14 am

Chipper has come a long way since the personal problems he had early in his career. He has always put the team first. It’s good to know he never cheated to pad his stats. The Braves will have a hard time finding another player with Chipper’s longevity and productivity.

Billy the Beaner

February 28th, 2012
8:17 am

I’m not a Braves Fan, but I do respect Larry and the way he plays the game. But, even if he did partake in PED’s in his career, do you seriously believe that he would “come out” in an article?? Seriously?!

OneNationUnderDawg

February 28th, 2012
8:29 am

I hate the steroids era, not only because it made me doubt some of my favorite Braves players (like Chipper) and their numbers and durability, but because it made me doubt Cal Ripken’s durability and his streak. If I ever found out Cal took PED’s to keep his streak alive, then baseball would be dead to me. Any other player?…I could get over it. For some reason, I just really liked Cal.

Truff Hurts

February 28th, 2012
8:32 am

I think 60% of players in the late 90’s thru 2008 used steroids or at least creatine. Bud Selig is a disgrace to MLB for not putting a stop to it before now.

Truff Hurts

February 28th, 2012
8:33 am

Roger Clemens was the worst case. He had his wife,trainer,and best friend Pettitte saying they all SAW him using them yet he still denies it today. Denial is a Mfgr….

mike

February 28th, 2012
8:34 am

It is great Chipper is a such a stand up guy. Now the real question is when are the braves going to win the world series. Year after year they come up short. Is this going to be another loser year? But Atlanta can be proud that there will always be one drug free player. Although he will be home watching the world series like the rest of the Atlanta fans.

Matt

February 28th, 2012
8:37 am

WOuld anyone be surprised if he did?? He’s never had power season like his MVP season. And he played 153 games or more 8 seasons in a row. Starting in 2004 his stats and games played drops dramatically and continues to decline. Just saying.

Truff Hurts

February 28th, 2012
8:37 am

I’m just wondering why Bonds & Clemens aren’t sitting in jail right now ? Both were convicted of purgery. The U.S. laws bend for the rich & famous. Remember when that hookeer said she & Charlie Sheen were doing cocaine & meth all night ? Why didn’t the cops do a search of his house for drugs immediately ?

Truff Hurts

February 28th, 2012
8:38 am

Also players that used steroids tend to be more injury-prone….

Matt

February 28th, 2012
8:41 am

Law Dawg- so Clemens and Barry should be in because they were HOF before they took steroids?? Pete Rose is not in the Hall as a player because of something he did as a manager!!! How do you tell what years were natural and what years were on the PEDs?? I’m sorry for all of them but they cheated the game. Letting them in relieves them of responsibilty. They achieve their goal: Pad stats to get into Hall.

mike

February 28th, 2012
8:54 am

I don’t like or dislike Jones. All I know about him is he is a baseball player and an adulterer. Neither of those qualities elevates him to hero status for me.

mike

February 28th, 2012
8:57 am

To the other “mike” at 8:34. “Atlanta can be proud that there will always be one drug free player”. You have a low threshold for proudness.

doc

February 28th, 2012
9:02 am

folks dont overlook clemens career was on a downward spiral until he took the juice, he wasnt a shooin leaving boston. i said for a long time he was probably guilty but folks were more focused on hitters than pitchers. so many of those flame throwers that blew elbows were on the stuff. remember how there were a couple of 100 milers on every team? that has certainly changed since the new standards have come forth. it also took the players a long time to allow it to happen because of the threat of impropriety in the process and why the braun case is so significant and why mlb better improve its standards for testing or they might make it look like a sham. especially, after taking so long to recognize or admit to the problem as the turnstiles churned and they made beaucoups of money as they let cheaters have their way. it took a senate hearing for the mlb to finally take on the problem and move forward.

the steroid issue in baseball is similar in dimension and importance as the concussion issue is in the nfl as this is filtering down to the high school level and lower to make it safer for all or at least allow folks the oportunity to ponder how these will effect the quality of lives and longevity in the future. the nfl has been hugely negligent and it took the story of john mackey to finally wake a few slumbering folks up. long term use in prescribed doses of roids is deleterious, as someone mentioned earlier much less in the pharmaceutical doses that were taken to blow up bodies, look at clemens and bonds heads to see it, the effect on brains due to the battering in football is more devastating in that we cant see the injuries under the best that science has to offer until the damage is done. only neuro-psych tests can begin to reveal the impact of the injury and they are not widely used or prescribed.

yes shug i have had the same thoughts in reviewing old pics myself. it wasnt as though the braves clubhouse was clean during that time either. shoot roids were available in the late 60’s while i played baseball and i knew of a local college coach who was pushing them to players because one of them asked me if i wanted to do it with him. they were not designer drugs and had huge devastating effects when abused so there was less of it until the pharm industry got involved.

Statick

February 28th, 2012
9:03 am

And here we have people always getting on Chipper for his multitude of yearly injuries. After reading this, I think you sadsacks should just shut up now.

Taylor Wooten

February 28th, 2012
9:07 am

Don’t most, if not all, deny they ever did/do it.

You can count on one hand the number who have admitted to doing it.

Its out there, despite what they say.

pro

February 28th, 2012
9:11 am

dumb move by chip to even comment. someone in his past knows the truth and could spill the beans out of spite.

Keep It Real Bro

February 28th, 2012
9:13 am

Chipper was juiced up also, check his stats from 1999

Questioning...

February 28th, 2012
9:21 am

I’m sorry…I love Chipper but I don’t trust any of those guys. Too many players have disappointed us all by their poor character and terrible choices. I think Ryan Braun is guilty too.

Sonny Clusters

February 28th, 2012
9:30 am

His Daddy had to ask him? We would think that would raise some eyebrows and some chin whiskers. If his Daddy asked him there must have been some doubt, right? “Son, did you slip out of the house last night? Son, did you get into my beer? Son, did you juice up when you were hulked up a few seasons back?” We was thinking we hope Chipper didn’t use performance enhancers but if he did we would understand how it could lead to bad toe muscles and thumb attachers and obliques that stretch too much and flu-like symptoms common in the sport of baseball. Say it ain’t so, Chipper. Well, we guess he just did. If he was to name some of that group that cast the aura of juicing we wonder if any of them would name him back?

Sonny Clusters

February 28th, 2012
9:36 am

Let’s say you’re a deer and every year you compete in the deer hunting don’t-get-shot by a Buck Commander olympics. You and every other little deer are out there facing some of the best baseball player/deer hunter/Buck Commanders in a battle of life and death . . . and they have high powered weapons and you don’t. All you have is a quicker mind. How would you feel about knowing that the deer hunter has bulked up and quickened his trigger finger by using peds? Well, that’s how we feel, too.

wardenerd

February 28th, 2012
9:39 am

If Ryan Braun does not hasve another career year like last year this year he will have a lot of splainin’ to do. He cheated he got caught and like Oliver North had his conviction overturned on a technicality. The same guys who get upset when someone goes free on a technicality support these two cheaters and I ask…WHY?

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

pat

February 28th, 2012
10:11 am

I think now would be a good time for Chipper to invest in some PED’s. Yea, he did it right! Now do it wrong and put up some numbers.

Jeff

February 28th, 2012
10:20 am

How many world series has this clown won?

Therut

February 28th, 2012
10:43 am

Hitting coach? Fire FG and let him manage! Start D. Lowe in such a pivital game. OMG

TB

February 28th, 2012
10:58 am

Pete Rose always bet on his team to win–he didn’t tank games! Besides, the HOF should consider him as a player, not what he did as a manager.

Senor Smoke

February 28th, 2012
10:58 am

One of the saddest outcomes of the Roids Era is that any guy who works hard on his physique and makes changes with his body is now suspect in the eyes of a lot people.
A man in his 20s/30s who eats right and trains hard as part of his profession can and will make changes to his physique, without the steroids.
Now, that said, I’ve never seen a guy train hard and increase their hat and shoe sizes..

ventersismean

February 28th, 2012
11:08 am

Jeff

February 28th, 2012
10:20 am
How many world series has this clown won?

uhh one more than you

heartofdarkness

February 28th, 2012
11:22 am

Supes, thanks for the Bob Ley reference. That presents a good discussion of the underlying fact situation leading to baseball’s initial decision to suspend Braun. If the chain of custody of Braun’s sample was not as required under the CBA, the suspension had to be lifted. Professional athletes have looked for substances and methods to deal with fatigue and pain since athletes have been paid to play. You can call it common sense until your sport bans it or you become convinced the risks are too great. The street lawyers going after Chipper on this blog don’t appear to have a leg to stand on, Opinion and prejudice don’t amount to evidence.

Dorothy Davis

February 28th, 2012
11:49 am

It’s not that the steroid users deserve the death sentence, they just do not belong in the Hall of Fame along with the greats that did it on hard work without cheating. Do you get that?

Roid-Free

February 28th, 2012
12:15 pm

I guess most athletes feel it is better to POP SOME OXYCODONE than it is to do any roid or performance enhancer now that the Real Drug Problem(Pain Killers) is swept under the rug and Roid abuse is out in the open!

P Rose

February 28th, 2012
12:18 pm

. . . and they have high powered weapons and you don’t. All you have is a quicker mind.

Sonny, that is just classic!

Chipper da Man

February 28th, 2012
12:19 pm

Chipper never needed any Steroids since his body was fueled on Beer!…………..Just Kidding……Go Kick some azz Chipper………Brave’s fans are counting on U!

Sid

February 28th, 2012
12:21 pm

Great to see the pics of Crimedog and Justice at Braves camp.

Hillbilly D

February 28th, 2012
12:38 pm

Pete Rose always bet on his team to win–he didn’t tank games!

But he didn’t bet on every game. Couldn’t the days he didn’t bet be interpreted as he didn’t think his team’s chances were good that day? That could be interpreted as a bet against his own team. Besides, the sign in the clubhouse says, no gambling; it doesn’t say anything about which team you’re betting on.

Robert

February 28th, 2012
12:38 pm

I know the Braves nation wants to believe Chipper. I want to believe Chipper as well.

But tell me this – other than the fact that he plays for OUR favorite team, how is Chipper’s verbal assurance that he never did anything any kind of guarantee?

What bothers me is two things – (well, actually three)

1. He thinks 20 percent of guys were juiced at the heighth of the craze – that seems WAY low

2. Saying that Braun’s word is all he needs, in the face of a grossly abnormal test – is understandable but not reassuring

3. Anyone who thinks this guy is a role model just because he might not have done PED’s is out there – Chipper Jones is a selfish hypocritical person who puts himself and his wants ahead everything, including his team, his teammates, and his spouse

Robert

February 28th, 2012
12:41 pm

By the way – Sonny Clusters makes a great point – It’s actually quite disconcerting that his father had to ask him. Makes you think that his dad had his suspicions.

Now, what is Chipper going to tell dad?

The same thing Ryan Braun is telling us. The same thing Rafael Palmeiro told those Congressmen

I wonder if Chipper wagged his finger at his father.