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August 24, 2013

Hank Aaron: Big contracts cause for PED use

Hank Aaron, who many believe is the true home run champion because he didn't use performance-enhancing drugs during his career, said on Saturday that the desire to get rich quick is the cause for players turning to banned supplements, not breaking baseball's most storied records.

"I think it's a matter of them having great years and signing big contracts," said Aaron, who took part in the Beacon Awards Luncheon as part of the Civil Rights Game festivities. "I don't think it's hitting more home runs than I hit and breaking records. It's a matter of them just trying to make a lot of money."

Aaron, who saw his former record of 755 homers smashed by accused PED user Barry Bonds, said that players who have been caught, like former Rangers first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, aren't likely to achieve baseball's highest honor -- enshrinement into the Hall of Fame.

"I don't think they're going to make it," Aaron said.

But Aaron also seemed to sympathize somewhat with the players, saying that he isn't sure what he would have done had he been offered PEDs during his career. He said he was trying to figure out if the players who have been caught are good people who made mistakes or people who are fueled by greed.

"People ask me about when I played. I tell them quick: I don't know what I would have done," Aaron said. "I didn't make enough money to buy anything other than a sandwich. I don't know what is the problem. These guys are making a lot of money, and these things are just sitting right out there for them."

Aaron also backed the work done by Commissioner Bud Selig earlier this month when suspensions for the Biogenesis scandal were handed down. Among those accepting suspensions were Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz, who is a free agent after the season.

"I think he's done a great job despite all the things that have happened the last few weeks," Aaron said of Selig. "I don't know anything else that he can do. He can't put these guys to bed. He can't lay down with them. He can only lay the rules down and let them know the possibility of them being suspended. That's the only thing he can do."

-- Jeff Wilson




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