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Armstrong: Big Wins Were "One Big Lie"; Hometown Reacts to Armstrong Confession; Report: Man Behind Te'o Girlfriend Hoax

Aired January 18, 2013 - 10:00   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Stories we're watching right now in the NEWSROOM, Lance Armstrong finally admits to doping, but his body language tells another story. Learn what Lance was really saying when he wasn't talking. Plus this --


UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I think if there are no guns on the street no one could get hurt.


COSTELLO: Small in size but big in impact. The White House posts kids reading letters to the president on its web site adding controversy for putting children on the political stage. Plus this --

NISCHELE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: I'm Nischele Turner live very early at the Sundance Film Festival where we're going one- on-one with the festival's creator, Hollywood icon, Robert Redford.

COSTELLO: And he's a huge fan, really.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He'll do a great job when he steps in because Gronk's hurt.


COSTELLO: Mr. Mayor that would be Gronk with an "R." Boston's Menino flubs the sports stars once again. NEWSROOM starts now.

Good morning, thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello. Lance Armstrong talks and one of the great stories in sports is exposed as a fraud. After years of denials, the bicycling legend now admits that illegal doping fueled his superhuman feats, his seven Tour De France titles, his record-setting times and his ferocious claims of innocence all lies.

This hour, we'll hear from people in Austin, Texas, are they sticking by their hometown hero? An expert in body language will also weigh in. Are the words telling the whole truth? And we want to hear from you, our "Talk Back" question this morning, what did you take away from the Armstrong interview? Let's listen --


OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Yes or no, did you ever take banned substances to enhance your cycling performance?


WINFREY: Yes or no, was one of those banned substances EPO?


WINFREY: Did you ever blood dope or use blood transfusions to enhance your cycling performance?


WINFREY: Did you ever use any other banned substances like testosterone, cortisone, or human growth hormone?


WINFREY: Yes or no, in all seven of your Tour De France victories, did you ever take banned substances or blood dope?


WINFREY: In your opinion, was it humanly possible to win the Tour De France without doping seven times in a row?

ARMSTRONG: Not in my opinion.

WINFREY: For 13 years, you didn't just deny it, you brazenly and defiantly denied everything you just admitted just now, so why now admit it?

ARMSTRONG: That's the best question, that's the most logical question. I don't know that I have a great answer. I will start my answer by saying that this is too late. It's too late for probably most people, and that's my fault. You know, I view this situation as one big lie. That I repeated a lot of times.

WINFREY: You said to me earlier you don't think it was possible to win without doping.

ARMSTRONG: Not in that generation. And I'm not here to talk about others in that generation. It's been well documented. I didn't invent the culture, but I didn't try to stop the culture and that's -- that's my mistake. And that's what I have to be sorry for and that's what's something -- and the sport is now paying the price because of that. So I am sorry for that.

WINFREY: How did it all work?

ARMSTRONG: I viewed it as very simple. I mean, you have things that were oxygen-boosting drugs for lack of a better word or way to describe it that were incredibly beneficial for performance or endurance sports whether it's cycling or running or whatever, and that's all you need.

I mean, my -- my cocktail so to speak was only EPO, not a lot, transfusions and testosterone, which in a weird way I almost justified because of -- because of my history, obviously with having testicular cancer and losing, surely I'm running low.

WINFREY: Were you afraid of getting caught?

ARMSTRONG: No. Drug testing has changed. It's evolved. In the old days they tested at the races. They didn't come to your house. They didn't come to your training camps. They tested you at the race. That's shifted a lot. So now the emphasis of the testing -- which is right -- is in out-of-competition testing.

WINFREY: And in 1999 there wasn't even a test for EPO.

ARMSTRONG: There was no testing out of competition. Theoretically there may have been, but they never came. And for most of my career there wasn't that much of that. So, two things changed --

WINFREY: That much of what?

ARMSTRONG: There wasn't that much out-of-competition testing. So, you're not going to get caught, you know, because you're clean at the races.

WINFREY: Were you the one in charge?

ARMSTRONG: Well, I was -- I was the top rider. I was the leader of the team. I wasn't the manager, the general manager, the director, the --

WINFREY: But if someone was not doing something to your satisfaction, could you get them fired?

ARMSTRONG: It depends what they're doing, I mean, if you're asking me somebody on the team says I'm not going to dope --


ARMSTRONG: -- and I say you're fired?


ARMSTRONG: Absolutely not.

WINFREY: Could you --

ARMSTRONG: I mean, could I? I guess, I could have, but I never did. Look, I was the leader of the team, and the leader of any team leads by example and there was never a direct order or a directive to say you have to do this if you want to do the tour, if you want to be on the team. That never happened. It was a competitive time. We were all grown men. We all made our choices, but there were people on the team that chose not to.

WINFREY: Were you a bully?

ARMSTRONG: Yes. Yes. I was a bully.

WINFREY: Tell me how you were a bully.

ARMSTRONG: I was a bully in the sense that you just -- that I tried to control the narrative, and if I didn't like what somebody said -- and for whatever reasons in my own head, whether I viewed that as somebody being disloyal or a friend turning on you or whatever, I tried to control that and say that's a lie, they're liars.


COSTELLO: Lance Pugmire spoke to some of those people that Armstrong discredited. He's a sports reporter for "The Los Angeles Times." So welcome, Lance.


COSTELLO: We read a lot of your articles. One quote from one of those articles incredibly powerful I want to read it to our viewers. It comes from the wife of Greg Lemond, the three-time winner of the Tour De France and a long time accuser of Armstrong's doping.

Kathy Lemond says, quote, "I can't describe the level of fear he brings to a family other than to liken it to a drunken, alcoholic abusive spouse who gets out of jail with a bouquet of roses for his bloody spouse saying here, I'm sorry, I did that." To many people perhaps the way he treated his accusers is worse than his cheating.

PUGMIRE: Absolutely. And I think that in talking to some of those people after his interview with Oprah, they still have a lot of resentment about, you know, the fact that he could have gone a little bit further in this interview to really deepen his apology to people like the masseuse who came forward and provided some information about him backdating a prescription for cortisone to dodge a test.

The way he treated a former teammate and very close friend, Frankie Andreu, and his wife Betsy, after they came forward and said that they heard him admit to taking performance enhancing drugs back in 1996 in a hospital room while he was undergoing cancer treatment.

And then again, Greg Lemond and his wife, Kathy, who Armstrong did a lot to basically help separate Lemond from a bicycle company that he had started. So, you know, there's still a lot of bitterness, and they felt like in regards to his quest for absolute forgiveness that he fell short in what he said to Oprah last night.

COSTELLO: Well, it makes you wonder if they could take any legal action or at least try to take legal action against Armstrong.

PUGMIRE: Well, you know, that does exist in a couple forms. There's a whistle-blower case that had been filed by Armstrong's former teammate, Floyd Landis, claiming that Armstrong defrauded the U.S. Postal Service in regards to, you know, his use of performance enhancing drugs to win and basically sullied the postal service's name.

And then there's also a potential lawsuit that could be filed as soon as today by a company that had backed a bonus -- multimillion dollar bonus that Armstrong received for winning the Tour De France in 2004. So, those things could all be at play in addition to what you're saying, you know, perhaps some defamation here.

COSTELLO: OK, so I'm sure you sat down you listened to the entire interview. Will you sit down again tonight and listen to another hour and a half of Lance Armstrong?

PUGMIRE: Yes. Yes, I will.

COSTELLO: If you didn't have your job to do, if you were a normal citizen and not a journalist, would you?

PUGMIRE: You know, I think it is interesting moving forward because this guy -- he was such a legend. He was held up as such a hero, and it is interesting to hear about basically the downfall of Lance Armstrong.

I mean, this guy put himself up there as this cancer survivor who won the most grueling race in the world, and to talk about what he was thinking and where he goes from here, I think that will be interesting.

I think that the -- one of the things that Lance touched on yesterday was the information about out-of- -- out-of-competition testing that can be done. I think that applies not just to the world of cycling, but in many sports across the board.

And I think that's why the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency wants to sit down and talk to him. This could be something that could change the way drug testing is done throughout all sports. So, I think that there is some value in his story of how he cheated.

COSTELLO: Yes. Let's hope Major League Baseball is listening, right? Lance Pugmire, thank you so much. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.

Armstrong stirred a lot of anger within competitive racing by saying doping was an essential part of the sport like putting air in the tires or refilling a water bottle.


WINFREY: Was it a big deal to you? Did it feel wrong?

ARMSTRONG: At the time?


ARMSTRONG: No. WINFREY: It did not even feel wrong.


WINFREY: Did you feel bad about it?

ARMSTRONG: No even scarier.

WINFREY: Did you feel in any way that you were cheating?

ARMSTRONG: No, the scariest.


COSTELLO: CNN's George Howell is in Austin where he's covered Armstrong for many years. So, George, what's the reaction there?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, look, you know, people are asking was this believable, you know, he said all the right words, but was it sincere? Is he truly apologetic and does it really make a difference?

You asked some people here, they say no. There are others who are disappointed in what they heard, cyclists here, there are many who are livid about that interview last night.

A lot of people watched it here in Austin, Texas, and take a listen to what some of those people had to say about that interview --


LARRY ROWE, TAX CONSULTANT: I'd like to think that at some point, you know, he would be forgiven, but the reality is I think he burned those bridges a long time ago. I think he's a -- I think he's a cheater, you know, I think he's a cheater. I don't know how else to say it.

AMANDA HOWARD, ENGINEER: In Austin really it's not news to us. I want to love Lance. I still love him I guess at heart, but I think it's really shady that he kept this from us for so long.

CHRIS CONOLEY, CABLE INSTALLER: Personally I think whatever they're putting into their body is their choice, and I think if everyone's doing it, whoever's the best at it, the best cheater, should win and that's obviously what happened right here. I mean, he's still got to train and everything it's not like he took a drug, went out and rode his bikes.


HOWELL: Definitely anger here in his hometown about Lance Armstrong now a fraud in many people's eyes. But there's also some mixed feelings here, you know, when you think about all the work that he's done for cancer research, with Livestrong, there are a lot of people who say, you know, we shouldn't lose sight of the good work that he did do during his career. And even Lance himself, Carol, in that interview he described himself as a jerk on one hand, but a humanitarian on the other hand, and that's really the Lance Armstrong that a lot of people here in Austin, Texas, came to know.

COSTELLO: All right, George Howell reporting live from Austin. George mentioned Livestrong. We have a statement from Armstrong's former foundation because, you know, he has stepped down.

Quote, "Even in the wake of our disappointment we also express our gratitude to lance as a survivor for the drive, devotion, and spirit he brought to serving cancer patients and the entire cancer community. Our success has never been based on one person. It's based on the patients and survivors we serve every day."

Stay with us. We have plenty more coverage of Lance Armstrong's admissions to Oprah Winfrey. Did you notice this during Lance's interview? How often he touched his face? In about 15 minutes we'll talk to a body language expert who will tell us what that means.

And tomorrow CNN takes you inside the case against Lance Armstrong "The World According to Lance Armstrong" airs Saturday night 7:00 and 10:00 Eastern.


COSTELLO: Notre Dame's Manti Te'o is not yet answering questions about his imaginary girlfriend. He's in Florida and training for the upcoming NFL combine and he's silent today. But we are hearing from the father of a former high school quarterback reported as the man behind the girlfriend hoax. Here's CNN's Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a hoax made all the more believable by his hushed mournful interviews like the one he gave ESPN.

MANTI TE'O, LINEBACKER, NOTRE DAME: I cried, I yelled, I never felt that way before. This is six hours ago I just found my grandma passed away, and you take, you know, the love of my life, the last thing she said to me was I love you.

TODD: But Manti Te'o's supposed girlfriend Lennay Kekua who reportedly died of leukemia never existed. Te'o and Notre Dame said he was the victim of the hoax. Who perpetrated it,, the sports investigative web site that broke the story, points to a young man named Ronaiah Tuiasopo.

CNN obtained a yearbook photo of him from 2008 when he was senior at Paraclete High School in Lancaster, California. Deadspin citing friends and relatives of Tuiasosopo says he created the girlfriend and spread the myth online.

TIMOTHY BURKE, EDITOR, DEADSPIN.COM: They told us that he has been doing the Lennay Kekua fake online profile for several years and that he's caught other people in his trap, but that they caught on way earlier than Manti Te'o did.

TODD: CNN cannot confirm Tuiasosopo's involvement. We went to addresses and called numbers in Southern California listed for Ronaiah Tuiasosopo and could not reach him. We caught up with Tuiasosopo's father, Titus, a former football player at USC now a pastor at a place called the Oasis Christian Church of the Antelope, he's seen here on Facebook.

He wouldn't speak on camera, but told us the truth will all come out. God knows our character. Ronaiah Tuiasosopo's uncle who gave us these pictures of him as a child tells us Tuiasosopo is religious and plays in a band at his father's church.

VINCENT AMITUANAI, RONAIAH TUIASOSOPO'S UNCLE: I know the kid all his life and this is the first time I heard something like that.

TODD: Deadspin says Tuiasosopo and Manti Te'o know each other. Notre Dame's athletic director who hired investigators in this case was asked if they were cousins or family friends.

JACK SWARBRICK, NOTRE DAME ATHLETIC DIRECTOR: That characterization does not square with my information, but I'll let the Te'os address it.

TODD: We could not reach Manti Te'o, his parents or agent for comment. Tuiasosopo is a former player himself seen here as a quarterback at Antelope Valley High School. He has relatives who played college and pro football.

(on camera): I spoke on the phone with Marcus Tuiasosopo, a former quarterback for the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets. Marcus said he's a distant cousin of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. Marcus said he didn't want to tape an interview. He said he can't say anything about this story and doesn't know him well, but Marcus did say that he and his family know the Te'o family.

(voice-over): Who is the woman depicted in social media photos as Manti Te'o's girlfriend? A woman we contacted whose name we are not airing says she realized her picture had been used for a fake Facebook page for Te'o's girlfriend.

The woman told CNN she knows Ronaiah Tuiasosopo through church, but says she's shocked to know he might be involved. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


COSTELLO: Wow. We'll keep you posted. It's just unbelievable.

The interview that everyone's talking about today, and the Lance Armstrong confession is the topic of our "Talk Back" question.


ARMSTRONG: I made my decisions. They are my mistake and I am sitting here today to acknowledge that and to say I'm sorry for that. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: "Talk Back" question, what did you take away from the Armstrong interview?, or tweet me @carolcnn.


COSTELLO: Now's your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning, what did you take away from the Armstrong interview? We are so over you, Lance, so over.

After the interview the backlash was quick and fierce. Yahoo! called it a sociopathic spectacle adding if you never met this jerk, well, count your blessings. Armstrong told Oprah he couldn't even remember how many people he sued for in effect telling the truth!

It says a lot about a man when on his own apology tour he's not sure who to apologize to. The wife of three-time Tour De France winner Greg Lemond said, quote, "I can't describe to you the level of fear he brings to a family other than to liken it to a drunken alcoholic abusive spouse who gets out of jail with a bouquet of roses for his bloody spouse, saying, here, I'm sorry, I did that."

Example Betsy Andreu, the wife of former teammate Frankie Andreu who testified she'd heard Armstrong admit to doping. For years Armstrong buried her in insults calling her crazy and derailing her husband's career. They since talked but Armstrong said, he couldn't discuss much of that conversation.


ARMSTRONG: I think she'd be OK with me saying this, but -- I mean, I can take the liberty to say it. I said, listen, I called you crazy, I called you a bitch, and I called you all these things, but I never called you fat.


COSTELLO: Talk about digging the hole deeper. Well, Lance, Betsy Andreu is definitely not OK with that.


BETSY ANDREU, WIFE OF ARMSTRONG'S FORMER TEAMMATE FRANKIE ANDREU: This is a guy who used to be my friend who decimated me. He could have come clean. He owed it to me. He owes it to the sport that he destroyed.


COSTELLO: But it's not just about the sport Armstrong may have destroyed. It's about the lives he destroyed through years of bullying and legal retaliation, the victims, often friends and teammates, left with careers and reputations ruined. Bank accounts depleted. "Talk Back" question, what did you take away from the Armstrong interview? or tweet me @carolcnn. I'll be right back.