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More on Lance Armstrong's PED Use; Interview with Senator Isakson

Aired January 18, 2013 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Armstrong coming clean gives vindication to all those people whose reputations he destroyed because they told what they now know is the truth. That includes the co-author of this book here. It's called "The Secret Race.

Tyler Hamilton wrote this book. He rode with Armstrong in three races. And Oprah Winfrey talked about Hamilton in that interview last night.


OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Tyler Hamilton also said there would be times when you all were injecting EPO in a camper or a tent and right outside the fans would be outside and you all would be dumping the syringes in Coke cans.

Is that true?

LANCE ARMSTRONG, CYCLIST: I didn't read Tyler's book. I don't necessarily remember that, but I'm certainly not going to say that's a lie, that's not true.


BALDWIN: Joining me now, Piers Morgan, just wrapped an interview with Tyler Hamilton.

And, Piers, before we chat, let me just play a clip here. Hamilton explains how this should not be the end for confessions for Armstrong. Here he was.


TYLER HAMLITON, FORMER ARMSTRONG TEAMMATE: Last night was -- on Oprah, it was, you know, the first step, so, you know, pat on your back for that, congratulations. You know, good for you for doing that.

It's just a small step, but the first step is the hardest. And, now, you have to continue. You need to -- the next step is going and testifying in front of USADA and the World Anti-Doping Association and doing the right thing, telling the truth, naming names, you know, it is not pleasant, but, you know, he needs to do it. He needs to do it. There are other people involved in this whole fiasco.


BALDWIN: OK, so he says this is the start, Piers. This is the pat on the back. But when he says name names, what does he mean by that?

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, CNN'S "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": I'm not entirely sure. It was quite a cryptic comment there by Tyler Hamilton. He clearly I think believes that Lance Armstrong has more that he can say

I was struck by Tyler's acceptance of Armstrong had finally done. There was no trace of bitterness or anger in my interview with him which there could have been because Armstrong has torn a shred off people like Tyler Hamilton for years, claiming these guys know nothing.

I was never a doper. They smear me with their lies and, of course, last night, we discover all of it is true and in many ways Tyler Hamilton and the others who came forward after they were caught -- let's be honest -- they all got caught.

But they were open and honest and they wanted the boss, the general, the leader of the pack to do the same and he finally has.

BALDWIN: You know, in talking to Oprah last night, she asked him -- this was part of the whole yes/no when, you know, she asked if he had doped for all seven Tour de France races, he said yes.

And I'm just curious, did Tyler Hamilton say, you know, had Armstrong not done the drugs and the doping, does he think he would have won?

MORGAN: No, he doesn't and he was very interesting about that.

He said, look, Lance Armstrong was a great cyclist, no way he would have won seven Tour de Frances without the doping even if all the cyclists were on the same level. In other words, if none of them were doping, he still doesn't think that Lance Armstrong would have won.

What he did say about Armstrong was that, although Tyler said that he himself wanted to win, he said Armstrong had to win and that was the difference.

Now, that's the difference you hear a lot about great champions, but, of course, not all great champions cheat. And, you know, we can all mince around the words here about Lance Armstrong, but I don't think anybody who saw last night's brilliant interview with Oprah, by the way, could not conclude that he is now the greatest cheat in the history of sport and he shamed his sport. He shamed his country and, most of all, he shamed himself because here's a guy who was a true icon.

BALDWIN: I just keep thinking, after so many years of telling the same story, how do you look at yourself in the mirror, Piers Morgan.

Thank you. We'll be watching tonight, 9:00. Also, want to add in addition to Tyler Hamilton who's a guest tonight on "Piers Morgan Tonight," Piers also is talking to actor Charlie Sheen who gives his two cents on this whole Armstrong scandal.

It was a pretty incredible interview he had the last time he talked to Charlie Sheen, so we'll be watching "Piers Morgan Tonight," 9:00 Eastern here on CNN.

Lance Armstrong admitted to using this whole cocktail of drugs throughout his cycling career, but could those drugs have caused or contributed to his cancer?

We're asking the man who founded the very first lab that tested professional athletes for drug use.


BALDWIN: Lance Armstrong admitted to using what he calls a cocktail of drugs and blood transfusions and it left me wondering how exactly does this work? Here's how. What he did was he took his own blood, you extract that blood, inject it back into the body. And what that does is it increases the amount of oxygen coursing through your veins. The biggest benefit, bigger endurance on the bike. In addition to the blood transfusions, he says he used testosterone and human growth hormones among others.


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


BALDWIN: Want to talk more about this drug cocktail with the man who founded first lab to ever test professional athletes, including Armstrong here for drug use.

Don Catlin joins me live from Los Angeles. Don, welcome.

I'm going to get to Lance in a moment, but for the non-cycling, non- elite athletes among us here, this is an education for us. And in terms of all the drugs that are thrown out as part of this cocktail, which is the worst one and how does it exactly help one's performance?

DON CATLIN, FOUNDER, ANTI-DOPING RESEARCH: EPO, erythropoietin, is probably one of the most important drugs ever created.

If you have cancer or kidney disease, chances are in your lifetime you'll be treated with EPO and the reason is because the EPO migrates to the bone marrow and it turns on the cells and the cells make red cells and the red cells carry oxygen and the oxygen circulates to the muscles, and oxygen is the fuel that muscles need.

So if you're sick, and you're ill, and you need EPO, EPO is a life saver. On the other hand, if you're a cyclist, it can really boost your performance by taking more oxygen and delivering it to your cells.

BALDWIN: OK, so this is this EPO that now everyone is talking about, but I want to ask you, because Lance Armstrong, he admits to doping back in the '90s.

This was before his cancer diagnosis. And, again, we're talking, also, in this mix of cocktails, testosterone that he's abusing, my question is, could that evolve -- if you're taking all this testosterone, contribute to what he had which was testicular cancer?

CATLIN: It's possible, but we need to know details of his medical history, which I don't know. I don't know what he took.

If he's just coming along through life, not taking it, then, no. But if he was taking it all along, in advance, it could contribute, although it is hard to prove exactly how it contributed. It could be.

BALDWIN: Now, eventually, he says he came clean. USADA would disagree with him.

But when it comes to addiction, what is the difference between, say, EPO or testosterone or some other drug here that he used and, say, cocaine?

CATLIN: Cocaine is a true addictive drug. You got to have it to stay alive and feel good. EPO you don't have to have it. You can stop anytime. You're not going to go through withdraw.

But if you want to keep up the high level of performance, you want to keep it up. And in that sense you might call it addicting. Really not an addictive drug like cocaine.

BALDWIN: Don Catlin, thank you so much, talking about the drugs he says he used through the years.

So, more than 4 million people, we now have the number, more than 4 million people watched Lance Armstrong's confession on Oprah.

How did she do in the interview? Did Armstrong help or hurt his image by coming clean? We're talking about that just ahead.

Oprah Winfrey called this the biggest interview of her life in terms of perhaps exposure. She was right.

Now, that the ratings are in, OWN just released that 4.3 million people watched her interview. Keep in mind, this is just part one interview with Lance Armstrong.

So, how did the TV veteran handle the most watched weekly broadcast ever for her network?

Lauren Ashburn, let me bring you in, editor-in-chief of "The Daily Download." If I may, I thought Oprah Winfrey was phenomenal. What did you think? LAUREN ASHBURN, "THE DAILY DOWNLOAD": Oprah, she's back, right?

BALDWIN: Oprah amazing.

ASHBURN: I mean, she delivered. I was so happy to see her once I finally found the channel on my 500 channels. You know, that's the only problem here with that.

BALDWIN: Right, right.

ASHBURN: But she really started with these yes/no questions. Let's put it to him, did you do it, didn't you? And make him answer the yes/no questions which is what everybody wanted to here. And then she ...

BALDWIN: Let me cut you off because we have that clip. In case somebody didn't watch, guys, let's roll that clip, yes/no.


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?



BALDWIN: Got the clear answers there. Clearly, she also did her homework and pressed him. She pressed him.

ASHBURN: She did, but she followed up by asking the how do you feel about this, and what were you thinking? It was actually more like, what were you thinking when you did this and how could you possibly think that was OK?

And, so, that is what people go to the Oprah confessional for. They go to have their souls, you know, absolved and their sins absolved rather and they need that. However, it did not work.

BALDWIN: I was about to ask you. Is Lance Armstrong's soul be a solved?


BALDWIN: You say no. Why?

ASHBURN: And here's why. Here is why, Brooke. Because crisis communicators will teach you ,101, that you have to fall down really hard and be trampled on before you can ask for forgiveness and that didn't happen here.

I put that out on to Facebook and said, OK, everybody, what do you think? Do you feel better about him? Do you feel worse? He's a thug. He's a liar. I can't -- I don't ever want to hear from him again.

And then one of my favorites was actually saying that he -- here it is. He was a doped-up narcissist athletic conman. He worked himself up into mental illness.

So, from Lance Armstrong's point of view, he thought that going on Oprah, who did a fabulous job, would save him. It didn't.

BALDWIN: But here's the but. Look, this is just one part. Let me just -- I have to play the other side of this. Tonight there is a whole entire other part of this.

What, if anything, Lauren Ashburn, does Lance Armstrong have to say to rebuild at least a sliver of his brand and believability?

ASHBURN: See, here's what. He doesn't have to say anything. He has to feel it.

If you looked at the interview, which it was so good to be able to see the full hour and a half. A lot of people I talked to only saw the clip and I don't think that that really gives you enough of the flavor.

BALDWIN: You need the whole thing.

ASHBURN: Right, the whole thing. And I sat -- well, I did fast- forward through it a little bit, but, OK, I did almost watch the whole thing. And you need to see that feeling, that feeling in his eyes, sort of the pain.

It felt to me like he was reflecting what people had said to him he should say and what he should feel.

I didn't -- I just didn't get it and I think Oprah, if anybody can pull it out of anyone, it's Oprah. And she wasn't even able to do it.

BALDWIN: Lauren Ashburn, thank you.

Just final thoughts here -- and I just have to say. This is just one of the stories that everyone is talking about. They are talking about it in line at Starbucks. They're talking about it in line at the cafeteria. Why does this story matter?

ASHBURN: Let me actually quote. I've been looking all over Facebook and your colleague, Josh Levs, fellow reporter, I just think he said it great, really well.

He said, two major reasons this story matters. One, you don't trash innocent people, poor money into lawsuits against them and bully them and deserve admiration.

And, two -- and I think this is the lesson -- I want my kids and all kids to know that being good and have them do unto others is what matters. Being famous isn't.

BALDWIN: On that, be right back.



Now, the U.S. Treasury is empowered to borrow money to make up the deficit, but only up to a certain limit. That's the debt ceiling.

Treasury does not make decisions about how the money is spent. They are simply empowered in this case to write the checks to pay the bills that are already incurred by your democratically-elected Congress.

Now that we've hit the debt ceiling -- we've actually exceeded it a little bit -- Treasury has two options left. They can fiddle around with about $200 billion the way you would if you are a little short on your monthly bills, paying some now, refinancing a little bit. That will get us through maybe mid-February to early March.

Once that stops working, the Treasury needs to rely on the cash that it has on hand and the revenue that comes in each day from taxes.

The problem is, there isn't that much cash on hand or enough money coming in on most days to cover the expenses. If there were, we wouldn't have a deficit.

Let me give you an example. I'm going to take one day as an example, February 15th. I choose that day because that might be the day, might be a little early, but it might be the day that we stop being able to mess things around.

OK, the federal government on that day will take in an estimated $9 billion in revenues. Again, that is mostly taxes. On the same day, $52 billion will need to be paid out, so we've got a shortfall, as you can see, of $43 billion.

So the Treasury needs to prioritize bills on that day, February 15th. They can pay some bills on time. They can put off others. We're not entirely sure that prioritizing payments is legal, but that's probably what they will have to do. Now, alternatively, the Treasury could wait until it has enough revenue on hand to cover one full day's payments and make all the payments at once. It would mean all the bills would be paid late and we know how that starts to look, right? We can imagine that that's not really a great way to do business.

Johnny Isakson is a Republican senator from Georgia. He's a member of the Senate finance committee.

Senator, thank you for being with us. I wanted to talk with you for quite some time. You have an extensive, extensive business background, something I wish were mandatory, actually, in Congress.

And you can agree that deciding whether to pay some bills but not others while you wait to scrape up enough cash to make payments isn't a sustainable way of doing business. Would you agree with that?

SENATOR JOHNNY ISAKSON (R), GEORGIA: No, no question about it. It's all wrong. You're exactly right.

VELSHI: So, what is our -- given the principles that you stand for and that many in the Republican party agree with and, in fact, some in the Democratic party, that we do have to deal with our spending, how do you square that with this very specific debt ceiling problem that we have, that we have financial obligations that we've already made that need to be paid and we have a second debate going on about how we should spend our money?

ISAKSON: Well, basically, Ali, we're now at 100 percent leverage as a country, about $16.5 trillion in debt and about $16.5 trillion in GDP.

If we continue to borrow and spend beyond our limit, we're going to compound that debt and that deficit and be on an us sustainable course for us to survive in the way you and I have known it.

What I like this to, we're at a point kind of like Robert Frost's poem, "two roads diverged in a yellow wood" ...


ISAKSON: We're going to need to take the one less traveled by and make all the difference. We're going to have to put our talking points and leave them outside of the negotiating room.


ISAKSON: Sit down at the table, begin to prioritize our spending, begin to act like a business person would have to act and like every family member has to act and send the signal to the rest of the world we're going to get our house in order.

VELSHI: Right.

ISAKSON: We do that and we'll return to greatness. We don't do that and we're going to be a debtor state. VELSHI: You want to get business done. You want to get a budget. Why -- can we not separate these things out? I know there are a lot of people in your party who say, if you take the debt ceiling off the table and agree to increase it, you lose your leverage. Republicans lose your leverage to have the conversation that you'd like to have.

So how do we deal with that? Right now, politics is standing in the way of good economics.

ISAKSON: Well, common sense needs to lead the way to a solution to the problem and we have two points we can leverage.

One, you're right, is the debt ceiling. The other is the c.r. that comes due on March the 27th. The c.r. might be the better place to use that leverage.

But one place or another, we need to decide that both sides need to come together at the table of common sense and begin to put America on a sustainable course of economics.

VELSHI: Senator, thank you for being with me. It's great to talk with you.

ISAKSON: Thank you, Ali.

VELSHI: For more of my interview with Senator Johnny Isakson, tune in to "Your Money" this Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.

Brooke, back to you.

BALDWIN: All right, Ali Velshi, I will take it here.

And just in this final minute while I have you, if you watched this Oprah Winfrey interview with Lance Armstrong or even if you didn't, all you have to do is be on Twitter because the tweets were a-flying here.

So, I just want to read you here some of the tweets during the show. Quote, "I want to yell and scream about Lance, but he is now truly irrelevant to my life. My young kids will on know him as a cheater."

Here's another one. "Armstrong is right that the culture was rife with cheating. What set him apart was he tried to destroy anyone who told the truth."

Many still not convinced Armstrong was telling the truth here. Quote, "When is the Oprah interview where Lance Armstrong confesses to lying in his Oprah interview."

Just a couple of the tweets there. Again, we want to thank you so much for watching today.

As always, you can check out the Brooke blog to see some of the latest interviews that we do here on the show at

I am about to hop on a plane headed to Washington where I know Wolf Blitzer is standing by. I hope you join us through the weekend and, of course, Monday for the big special for the presidential inauguration 2013.

We will cover it as CNN can from every which angle. We hope you join us from Washington.

And speaking of, I hear a certain someone is out of the studio and on the National Mall for a special edition of "The Situation Room," my colleague, Wolf Blitzer.

Wolf Blitzer, take it away.

WOLF BLITZER: Brooke, thanks very much.