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Lance Armstrong Confesses; Discussing Armstrong's Cheating and Long Denial

Aired January 18, 2013 - 15:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. I'm Brooke Baldwin. It is the confession that the world stopped to watch, Lance Armstrong calling himself arrogant, calling himself a bully and a jerk, as he finally admitted he had taken these banned substances before all seven of his Tour de France wins.

So for 13 years, Armstrong has been looking right into the camera, right into the eyes of prosecutors, critics, teammates, fans, cancer survivors, and lying.


LANCE ARMSTRONG, FORMER PROFESSIONAL CYCLIST: Everybody wants to know what I'm on. What am I on? I'm on my bike.

Regardless of whether or not people accuse Lance Armstrong of doing something, regardless of whether or not they are questioning a relationship with a doctor, we have to look at the facts. We have to.

The questions have continued and the suspicion has continued, but the only other thing that has really continued and I think is the most alarming thing is the performance. I have not gone away.

The cynics, the skeptics, I'm sorry for you. I'm sorry you can't dream big and I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles.

I have said it for longer than seven years. I have never doped.

ARMSTRONG: How could that have happened?

QUESTION: That was my point. It's not just simply that you don't recall?

ARMSTRONG: How many times do I have to say it?

QUESTION: I'm just trying to make sure your testimony is clear.

ARMSTRONG: It can't be any clearer than I have never taken drugs.


BALDWIN: Now we know the facts, we know the truth in this confessional interview here, sat down with the Oprah Winfrey here. Straight out of the gates, she asked him and he admitted to everything you just heard him brazenly deny. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "OPRAH'S NEXT CHAPTER": Let's start with the questions that people around the world have been waiting for you to answer. And for now I would like a yes or a no.


WINFREY: OK. This whole conversation, we have a lot of time, will be about the details.

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.


BALDWIN: One big lie that lasted 13 years, telling Oprah he would do anything and take out anyone who dared to stand in his way.


ARMSTRONG: I think this just ruthless desire to win, win at all costs, truly, that serves me well on the bike, served me well during the disease, but the level that it went to for whatever reason is a flaw.

And then that defiance, that attitude that arrogance, you cannot deny it. You watch that clip, that's an arrogant person. I look at that and I go, this guy, look at this arrogant prick. I say that today. It's not good. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: The world was watching there. But there was one person in particular here who was watching as well and she was seething. Her name is Betsy Andreu. She is among the people Armstrong admitted he trampled on to defend his own lie.

She is the wife of Frankie Andreu. This is Armstrong's ex-friend, former teammate on the Postal Service team. She testified in this lawsuit deposition about this 1996 hospital room visit in which she says she heard Armstrong admit to this doctor to taking five performance-enhancing drugs.

Oprah Winfrey asked him about this and here is what he told her.


WINFREY: Was Betsy telling the truth about the Indiana hospital, overhearing you in 1996?

ARMSTRONG: I'm not going to take that on and I'm laying down on that one.

WINFREY: Was Betsy lying?

ARMSTRONG: I'm just not -- I'm going to put that one down. She asked me and I asked her not to talk about the details of the call. It was a confidential, personal conversation.


BALDWIN: Well, you know did talk to Betsy Andreu? Anderson Cooper, minutes after she watched that exchange with Oprah.


COOPER: Betsy, just first of all, your impressions on what you heard tonight.

BETSY ANDREU, WIFE OF ARMSTRONG'S FORMER TEAMMATE: I'm really disappointed. He owed it to me. You owed it to me, Lance, and you dropped the ball. After what you've done to me, what you've done to my family and you couldn't own up to it. And now we're supposed to believe you? You have one chance at the truth. This is it.

If he's not going to tell the truth, if he can't say, yes, the hospital room happened, then how are we to believe everything else he's saying? We're already questioning him.

COOPER: You were in a hospital room, and you heard Lance Armstrong tell doctors about all the drugs that he took?

ANDREU: Yes, yes. It happened.

COOPER: And he denied it happened up and down, and this was a key part of a lawsuit that he ended up winning. ANDREU: Yes, that he settled with.

COOPER: Right.

ANDREU: But if the hospital room didn't happen, just say it didn't happen, but he won't do it because it did happen. And if this is his way of saying -- "I just don't want to go there, OK. We'll give it to her." That's not good enough. That is not being transparent. That is not being completely honest. That's skirting the issue.

I want to believe that Lance wants to come clean, but this is giving me an indication that I can't.

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.

And don't -- when he says he doesn't like the UCI, that's a bunch of crap. He had the UCI in his back pocket. Lance wasn't a leader? That's a bunch of crap, because he owned the team.


BALDWIN: Let me explain what the UCI is. UCI stands for the International Cycling Union. This is the same organization that recently stripped Lance Armstrong of all seven of his Tour de France titles for doping.

And Betsy Andreu, sitting with Anderson, is reacting to this part of Armstrong's confession.


ARMSTRONG: 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.


BALDWIN: Want to turn now to psychologist Paula Bloom. What an interview, right? I know. Deep breath. We watched. You watched. To Betsy Andreu's point and all these people who are talking today, was this a full confession?

PAULA BLOOM, PSYCHOLOGIST: The word full, I wouldn't apply that to this at all.

Full of some things, we would apply to him, right? It was so painful to watch her, somebody who -- she looks like somebody who has been traumatized. I have worked with people who have been abused as children and it is the same kind of trauma of here is somebody who doesn't fully -- it was funny that it was on OWN, right? How much did he really own of this? I wouldn't call it a full confession at all. BALDWIN: Let's get to the question that, you know, he really didn't seem to answer here, and that being, why now? Why is he confessing now? Take a listen.


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.


BALDWIN: It is a confession. He's lied for years and years. You don't know Lance personally. We can't talk about his personal case, but in dealing with, let's say, a pathological liar, what makes a liar come clean?

BLOOM: Well, as somebody who -- he said he said in the interview that he's somebody who tried to control all aspects of things. The way we do anything is the way we do everything. I imagine that's how he's going to be approaching this interview. He wants to control how people perceive him, right?

BALDWIN: He thinks a confession is his way of controlling his life?

BLOOM: I would imagine, or maybe it's some way to do some control, alt, delete, reboot, restart on some things.

BALDWIN: Interesting.

Paula Bloom, stay right here with me as we're going through this entire hour, because coming up here, Armstrong lied under oath about doping, even sued people who accused him of it. One of the questions we have is, what kind of legal trouble will he face now that he has confessed? We have much more on Lance Armstrong's confession in this special hour next.


BALDWIN: Lance Armstrong comes clean, leaving a path of lies and lawsuits behind him. But his decade of denial could cost him more than his reputation.

His televised admission with Oprah, confessing to doping and wrongly accusing others of lying opens him to up kinds of potential lawsuits here.


WINFREY: You're suing people and you know that they're telling the truth. What is that?

ARMSTRONG: It's a major flaw. And it's a guy who expected to get whatever he wanted and to control every outcome.


BALDWIN: Want to bring in CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin.

Sunny, first, I just want to begin with what seems like a biggie, this whistle-blower lawsuit we have been talking about. This is -- the Justice Department's involved, but neither the DOJ nor this former teammate of his, Floyd Landis, have actually acknowledged the suit even exists. Why?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Well, whistle-blower lawsuits by law are typically sealed, Brooke, for at least 60 days, a minimum of 60 days, and they usually remain sealed during the investigation.

And that's for good reason, because it protects the investigation and, of course, it protects the whistle-blower. It is very difficult as you would imagine in many circumstances for the whistle-blower to come forward. I will say this. "The Daily News" has released what they purport to be the lawsuit. It is about 33 pages. I have seen a copy. I'm not comfortable sharing it with our audience, because, again, we don't know the posture of this investigation.


HOSTIN: And, typically, these cases are sealed.


HOSTIN: What is reportedly at stake is the proceeds basically of this sponsorship between the U.S. Postal Service and this team. The U.S. Postal Service invested about $30 million in sponsorship money. These false claim acts cases are basically seeking trouble damages.

You're talking really three times, about $30 million. And Floyd Landis in particular could gain about 25 percent of any recovery. Now, the Justice Department with its formidable resources can join that kind of lawsuit, right? And so they can intervene and then sort of take the ball and start running with it.

So, given this confession that he just gave to Oprah, it tells me that the government will likely get involved, try to retrieve some of that money. And, you know, his legal trouble is just exploding because you not only have that. You have that other federal investigation that was sort of put to rest in February of 2012. We don't even know why.


BALDWIN: That was the 20-month criminal investigation, right? So it was dropped, right?

HOSTIN: That's right.

BALDWIN: Sunny, it was dropped in February, as you point out. In fact, we have a little sound because this is how Armstrong described that moment. Here it was. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WINFREY: You're suing people and you know that they're telling the truth. What is that?

ARMSTRONG: It's a major flaw. And it's a guy who expected to get whatever he wanted and to control every outcome.

WINFREY: When the Department of Justice just dropped that case and nobody knows why, I have to ask you, did you have any influence in that whatsoever?

ARMSTRONG: No, none.

WINFREY: None. When they dropped that case...

ARMSTRONG: That's very difficult to influence.

WINFREY: Well, I have to ask.



When they dropped the case, did you think now, finally over, done, victory?

ARMSTRONG: That's hard to define victory, but I thought I was out of the woods.

WINFREY: You thought you were out of the woods. The wolves had left the door.


ARMSTRONG: And those are some serious wolves.


BALDWIN: Might the wolves return now that he's made this public admission? Could the feds reopen the case?

HOSTIN: I think it certainly is possible, because we don't know why the federal government stopped investigating this case. We don't know why the federal government didn't bring a suit after -- bring rather criminal charges after the investigation.

So perhaps the missing link was a confession, perhaps the missing link was his involvement, the details of his involvement. Now that the government has that, maybe they will pick that up. When the government drops an investigation, you don't know why. But it doesn't ever really mean that it can't be resumed.

BALDWIN: Reopened. Reopened.

Sunny Hostin, thank you. Paula Bloom, you're listening. Quickly, your thoughts.

BLOOM: Yes. This is what makes it very difficult to trust what he has to say. There is all these far-reaching implications for anything he says right now. This isn't done.

When you have any kind of legal thing -- there are times during the interview where he's very deliberate in his speech and there are times where he was a little more fumbling and kind of thinking and maybe trying to calculate. He's already told us that he's somebody who is pretty calculating.

BALDWIN: The culture of perfection, Lance Armstrong here driven to win, he talks a lot about winning and victory, doesn't he, winning no matter what. We're going to talk to Paula Bloom here about what that drive is really to be absolutely pitch-perfect.

Also, a former teammate, Tyler Hamilton, what does he think of this big interview, this big confession? You will hear from him with Piers Morgan coming up.


BALDWIN: A lot of great questions here as we're doing this special on Lance Armstrong. Keep tweeting me @BrookeBCNN. We want to answer some of your questions.

But Lance Armstrong, he talks to Oprah Winfrey and he confesses to doping. And while he was doping, he didn't think he was cheating, he says.


ARMSTRONG: I had this exercise, because I kept hearing...

WINFREY: That you were a cheat.

ARMSTRONG: ... I'm a drug cheat, I'm a cheat, I'm a cheater. And I went and looked up I looked up just the definition of cheat.


ARMSTRONG: And the definition of cheat is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe, you know, that they don't have or that -- I didn't view it that way. I viewed it as -- as a level playing field.


BALDWIN: Psychologist Paula Bloom sitting here with me in the studio.

That's a deep sigh. My goodness, Paula Bloom. Listen, it is like you live and think about someone who would have common sense to do right, to do wrong. And then it seems to be this theme of this pursuit of perfection in Lance Armstrong's life.

BLOOM: Right. Right. Not to lessen the blame on him by any means, but I do think we live in this culture of it is not good enough to be good enough. You have to be the best. Every parent wants their kid to be like in the gifted program. Statistically, that's not possible. Everybody thinks to be worthwhile, you have to be the best. Right?

BALDWIN: "My kid is an honor student" bumper stickers.

BLOOM: Oh, my dog. My dog is smarter than your dog. I love my kids. I just don't have that bumper sticker.

But this idea that you have to be the best -- I have to say, there was something I thought was inconsistent in one of the pieces you just played.

BALDWIN: What's that?

BLOOM: He says that this was about winning. He would do anything to win. How does suing people for slandering you or you pretend that they're lying, how does that help you win on the bicycle? I don't understand that.

BALDWIN: It may not help him win on the bicycle, but it helps win when it comes to his ego, his reputation, his image.

BLOOM: Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. But this vision of I'm an athlete who is all about winning -- now, I have to say he says something that I think is really important, which he's taken this characteristic in himself, his perseverance and it helped him with cancer. That's amazing, to take something, transform pain into power, what he's done with his organization. All of that is wonderful.

Those are some things we can learn from this. But to suggest that it was just about winning, winning a race, it is so much more than that.

BALDWIN: Let me talk about this comment that has gotten a lot of people talking. You want to talk about this. We're focusing here on Armstrong and we played you just some clips at the top of the show from Betsy Andreu. Again, she's the wife of this ex-teammate who said Armstrong decimated her and her family when she testified that she heard him admit to doping, taking these drugs, and she says he heard him doing this in front of doctors.

Here is what Armstrong said and then you will hear her reaction.


ARMSTRONG: I said, listen, I called you crazy, I called you a bitch. I called you all these things, but I never called you fat.

WINFREY: That's one of the things she said?

ARMSTRONG: She said she I thought said you were a fat crazy bitch. And I said, Betsy, I never said you were fat.

ANDREU: Well, I guess we know why I was all these years. Putting up with that, how would you act, sweet as apple pie?


BALDWIN: You're cringing. You're cringing when you're watching him.

Oh, my gosh. He's saying, hey, I never called you fat. I never called you fat.

BLOOM: OK. This is what I heard. Maybe -- what I heard is, I have doped, I have cheated, I have lied, I have bullied, I have even called you the B-word, but even I wouldn't sink so low to call you fat.

And so as I was listening to this yesterday, I was first of all thinking about that's the thing you chose to set the record straight about?

BALDWIN: Because he's fixating on the fat comment.

BLOOM: Right. Right.

And so then it got me thinking about, is it so bad to call someone that, and is it so bad to be that? That was a psychologist. And then the woman who is -- myself who has struggled with weight issues, I was like, yes, I would want the record straight on that. I don't know calling -- but it is just fascinating that that would be...

BALDWIN: What he fixated on. Paula Bloom, stand by.

We will talk here again about the fact that Lance Armstrong has admitted a lot of things here in this Oprah interview, but he pushed back on claims that he bullied his teammates into doping. They're saying they were bullied. We're going to ask one of his former teammates if that was true.


BALDWIN: Lance Armstrong destroyed to himself as a jerk and a bully in this explosive interview, his confession with Oprah Winfrey. He admitted yielding great power in the world of cycling, but definitely pushed back on claims that he bullied his teammates into doping. Here he was.


ARMSTRONG: 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.


BALDWIN: Oprah Winfrey, she pushed him further, asking him the question straight out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 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 said, that's a lie, they're liars.


BALDWIN: Now, according to Betsy Andreu, the wife again of Armstrong's ex-teammate Frankie Andreu, there was much more to Armstrong's bullying than -- quote -- "controlling a narrative," as he just explained. She says what happened when her husband didn't want to dope.


COOPER: He would say that he was -- he wasn't the general manager, that he never forced people to do it. He never directed anybody to do it, to take -- to dope.

ANDREU: OK, then why did -- why did they make sure Frankie's contract wasn't renewed in 2000 when he wanted Frankie to see Ferrari and Frankie said, "No, no, no, no." He rode the 2000 campaign clean, had a -- the vast majority of his career was clean.

What was his reward? He didn't get compensated for that tour win, and he lost his job and his career was derailed. That's -- that's going up against Lance Armstrong.


BALDWIN: Want to bring someone in who knows about this whole pressure to dope, the culture here.

Scott Mercier is a former member of the U.S. Postal Service cycling team who left it because he said he didn't want to take performance- enhancing drugs. And just to be clear, this was a year before Armstrong joined the team.

So, Scott, welcome to you.

And I would ask you straight up if Armstrong was a bully, if you had ridden with him, but let me just then begin with this. With this culture, perhaps, of doping, were you ever tempted?


When I look back, I will always wonder where could I have finished up. You know, you're human, you wonder, did you make the right decision? And really what I want to talk about is clean athletes and making a choice. We did have a choice. I did not feel pressure to dope. I just felt that if I continued racing, I probably would do the same thing everyone else did.

BALDWIN: Just got a tweet from someone: "I raced with Armstrong. I raced clean. How was he leveling the playing field against me?"

I know a lot of clean racers. You watched the interview. What was your reaction to this? Would you call it a mea culpa? Would you call it a confession last night?

MERCIER: Well, I mean, he certainly admitted that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

You said you got a tweet about leveling the playing field. The thing you have to remember, also, is that different people react differently to different types of drugs, so it is not necessarily true that the athletes would have been the same or that the results would have been the same.

BALDWIN: You did ride with him in 1992, correct?

MERCER: We rode together in '92 and '94 on the world's teams. Ironically, you hear how much of a bully he is. My personal experiences with him were positive. He defended me in a number of races against some Spaniards. Obviously, you read some horrible things about him, but my personal experiences were fine.

BALDWIN: So, you know, I talked to a teammate earlier in the week and he said absolutely there was a pressure to dope. And if you didn't dope, Lance Armstrong would sort of want to push you out, push you off the team.

So you're saying that isn't the case, at least in your relationship with him?

MERCIER: Again, we weren't teammates together on the U.S. Postal Service, so I can't comment on that.

But what I can comment on is how you do things matter, how you play the game matters. You know, you have that winning at all cost mentality and I think hopefully we're seeing a cultural shift in America that integrity and ethics are coming back to the forefront.

BALDWIN: I'm glad you brought that up because, again, here you are, you choose -- you take the higher road. You choose not to cheat. You choose not to dope.

You saw Armstrong go on to win, right, title after title, the seven Tour de France bronze Olympic medal, all these sponsors, the money and, now, though, you're finally being recognized, right, for competing honorably.

MERCIER: Yes, and, you know, it is very satisfying, but I think that we see it whether it is in business or academics, I think people are tired of lying and cheating and stealing. Nobody got elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this year

And really what I'm trying to say is how you compose yourself is important. And it will come back later on in your life. So, just do what you think is right, and you'll never go wrong.

BALDWIN: That's an awesome message. Scott Mercier, thank you. Thank you so much.

MERCIER: It's a pleasure. Thank you.

BALDWIN: Cyclist Tyler Hamilton, he was on the U.S. Postal Service team with Lance Armstrong. Piers Morgan just sat down with him today. Piers is going to join me right after this quick break.