MIAMI – ESPN the Magazine stands “firmly” behind its representation of Derrick Rose’s response to a question about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the NBA, editor in chief Gary Belsky said in a statement provided Monday to CBSSports.com.
Belsky also revealed that the interview with Rose, published May 16, was conducted by a “contributing reporter” six months ago. In the piece, Rose purportedly was asked, on a scale of 1-10, how big of a problem illegal enhancing was in his sport. Rose responded, “Seven. It’s huge,” but issued a statement Sunday saying he didn’t recall answering or being asked that question. If that was his response, Rose said, he clearly “misunderstood what was asked of me.”
“‘Scale of 1-10’ is an ongoing project in The Magazine, for which a group of contributing reporters routinely ask athletes in various sports a series of questions about all manner of topics,” Belsky said in the statement provided to CBSSports.com. “On Nov. 26, 2010, one of these contributors interviewed Derrick Rose before a Bulls-Nuggets game in Denver, and while we firmly stand by our representation of Derrick’s response to our question about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in his sport, only he can speak to his understanding of the question and the intent of his answer.”
For a feature in the May 16 issue of the magazine, Rose was one of several professional athletes asked, on a scale of 1-10 with one being, “What are PEDs?’” and 10 being, “Everybody’s juicing!” how big of a problem is illegal enhancing in your sport? Rose’s response:
"Seven. It's huge and I think we need a level playing field, where nobody has that advantage over the next person."
After the comment began circulating online Sunday, hours before Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Bulls and Heat, Rose issued a statement disavowing his response and what he was asked.
"Regarding the quote attributed to me in ESPN The Magazine, I do not recall making the statement nor do I recall the question being asked," Rose said in a statement released by the Bulls. "If that was my response to any question, I clearly misunderstood what was asked of me. But, let me be clear, I do not believe there is a performance enhancing drug problem in the NBA.”"
Bulls spokesman Tim Hallam told CBSSports.com that Rose told him he would “never say anything like that.” Sources said Rose may have thought he was being asked how important it was for sports to be PED-free. A person close to Rose told the Chicago Tribune Sunday that Rose believed he was being asked, "How big of a problem would it be if steroid use were rampant in the NBA?"
League officials were made aware of the matter and decided to take no disciplinary action against Rose, an NBA spokesman told CBSSports.com Monday.
Though the comment was printed more than a week ago – and, as it turns out, generated from an interview conducted almost six months ago -- it did not begin widely circulating online until Sunday morning. Other athletes were polled for the magazine piece, including baseball player Andruw Jones (who gave his sport a five), and NFL player James Laurinaitis (who ranked his sport as a seven on the 1-10 scale.)
ESPN the Magazine did not reveal the identity of the contributor in its statement. The piece did not carry a byline.
Asked about Rose’s comments, Heat star Dwyane Wade said Sunday, “Haven’t seen nothing, haven’t heard nothing.” Asked if there’s a steroid problem in the NBA, Wade said, “No. I just don’t think there is. It’s nothing I’ve ever experienced in basketball. Never seen it. It’s nothing that I think takes place.”
NBA players are subject to four random drug tests between Oct. 1 and June 30, and can be tested more frequently if an independent expert rules that reasonable cause exists.