ESPN lands first A-Rod interview

Yankee admits to using performance-enhancing drugs

NEW YORK -- ESPN on Monday snagged the first interview with New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who reportedly tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003.

Speaking first to ESPN's baseball analyst Peter Gammons, Rodriguez acknowledged that he took performance-enhancing drugs for three years beginning in 2001 while he was a member of the Texas Rangers. The positive test result, which came in 2003, occurred in his last year with the Rangers before he was traded to the New York Yankees.

"I was stupid for three years," Rodriguez told Gammons. "I was very, very stupid." ESPN was one of the many TV outlets that clamored for the interview, but got it first. There was a crush of requests from all major media for the first to tell Rodriguez's story.

For ESPN, success came after the company reached out to Rodriguez's agent Scott Boras on Saturday. They learned Sunday that the interview request was granted, and Gammons left New England to fly to Miami on Sunday. Gammons and crew arrived at an undisclosed private home Sunday night, thinking that the interview would take place at that point but Rodriguez's camp postponed it until Monday. The interview finally took place Monday afternoon, and lasted about 50 minutes.

There were no preconditions, an ESPN spokesman said Monday afternoon. While the bulk of the interview would appear as the centerpiece of the 6 p.m. ET "SportsCenter" -- and then on ESPN.com and ESPN Radio -- pieces of the interview were being distributed on the afternoon "SportsCenter," ESPN.com and ESPN News even before the interview had ended.

"Their interest was in getting Alex's story out quickly, which with all of our platforms we have the ability to do that," an ESPN spokesman said. A high-profile interview with the baseball giant was expected ever since the news broke on SI.com that Rodriguez was one of the 100-plus Major League Baseball players who tested positive during a test before the new rules were put into effect. Rodriguez famously denied to Katie Couric on "60 Minutes" that he had ever used performance-enhancing drugs.

Couric asked him if he ever felt like he should. "No. I've never felt overmatched on the baseball field," Rodriguez told Couric in December 2007. "I've always felt in a strong, dominant position." Speaking to Gammons on Monday, Rodriguez had an explanation. "I wasn't being truthful with myself," he said. "How could I be truthful with Katie Couric or CBS?"
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