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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Lance Armstrong Admits He Doped; Hostage Standoff in Algeria; Manti Te'O Girlfriend Mystery

Aired January 18, 2013 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LANCE ARMSTRONG, FORMER PROFESSIONAL CYCLIST: I view this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Lance Armstrong's lies. Now that America has seen his confession, will the truth set him free?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hostage crisis in the desert. Americans still believed to be among the captives after a risky rescue attempt fails to free all of them.

SAMBOLIN: Power struggle in the Northeast. Wet, heavy snow drops trees and power lines, affecting tens of thousands of homes and businesses as well. We have so much to talk about this morning. Boy, what a night.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East, January 18th right now. It's a Friday.

And, man, what a moment. For years, Lance Armstrong cheated. For years, Lance Armstrong lied.

But last night, in big public fashion, he came clean finally. In a gripping, but surreal interview with Oprah, the disgrace cycling legend told Oprah point blank that he doped to win each of his seven consecutive Tour de France titles, every single one of them.

He admitted he systematically lied about doping and ruthlessly attacked his accusers. The 90-minute interview on the Oprah Winfrey Network began by cutting to the chase. Simple yes or no questions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY, TV HOST: Let's start with the questions that people around the world have been waiting for you to answer, and for now, I'd just like a yes or a no.

ARMSTRONG: OK.

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?

ARMSTRONG: Yes.

WINFREY: Was one of those banned substances, EPO?

ARMSTRONG: Yes.

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

ARMSTRONG: Yes.

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

ARMSTRONG: Yes.

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

ARMSTRONG: Yes.

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: He did it. He did all of it. Disarmingly frank.

George Howell is in Austin, Texas, this morning. George, with the latest on this really fascinating interview.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, good morning. You know, all you can say is wow. Right off the top of this interview, he confessed. And as a reporter who is here in Austin some 12 years ago, covering his rise, this is something that I can honestly say many people in this community thought in the back of their minds, even as he viciously attacked those who doubted him. But, now, we know that it was Lance Armstrong who all along was living what he describes himself as one big lie.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL (voice-over): Lance Armstrong spent years trying to outrun allegations that he used performance enhancing substances to fuel his successful cycling career. That race is now over.

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

ARMSTRONG: At the time?

WINFREY: Yes.

ARMSTRONG: No.

WINFREY: It did not even feel wrong?

ARMSTRONG: No. Scary.

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.

HOWELL: After decades as of denials, the seven-time Tour de France interview came clean in part one in a wide-ranging interview with Oprah Winfrey.

ARMSTRONG: I am deeply flawed. We all have our flaws, but -- and if the magnifying glass is normally this big, I made it this big because of my actions and because of my words and because of my attitude and my defiance.

HOWELL: Armstrong kept his emotions in check as he described years of cheating, lying and attacking those who would dare doubt him. He denied forcing teammates to dope, but did admit they may have felt pressure to follow his example.

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

HOWELL: Armstrong admits he was the one telling, in his words, one big lie, that he repeated over and over again, including this 2005 deposition.

The hero to so many realizes this is probably too late for many people.

ARMSTRONG: They have every right to feel betrayed, and it's my fault. And I have -- I will spend the rest of my life, you know -- some people are gone forever. But I'll spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and apologize to people for the rest of my life.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: You know, what we learned in that interview, Lance Armstrong described himself as a flawed character and described himself as a bully. And, also, it's very interesting dichotomy of being a jerk on one hand, but also on humanitarian -- you know, the work that he did. The good work he did for cancer research.

But again, you know, years and years of denials. Years and years of lying, and personally as an Austin guy, it's disappointing.

BERMAN: You know, he said he cheated and he said he didn't think it was wrong at the time. It is fascinating.

So, what is next for Lance Armstrong?

HOWELL: Well, you know, it will -- this is certainly a tough hit for his image. And moving forward, there will certainly very likely be lawsuits. There have been groups that have indicated, you know, they want their money back, sponsors that want their money back.

There's also been a loss of sponsors. We're talking about the loss of Nike, Anheuser Busch.

And also, when it comes to paying money back, think about the U.S. Postal Service. There are reports that there are discussions about how much money Lance Armstrong will pay back for the sponsorship he got from them -- John.

BERMAN: All right. George Howell live in Austin, this morning -- a lot of people talking about it there and all over the country.

So, Lance Armstrong says he has spoken to one of the people he called a liar. One of the people he attacked. Sixteen years ago, Betsy Andreu and her then fiance, while Armstrong was fighting cancer, said they heard him tell his doctor he was doping, rattling off human growth hormone, EPO and other substances. Back then, he denied her claims.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

INTERVIEWER: Did you deny the statements that Ms. Andreu attributed to you in the Indiana University Hospital?

ARMSTRONG: One hundred percent, absolutely.

INTERVIEWER: Can you help explain to me why Ms. Andreu would make that story up?

ARMSTRONG: Of course, she said in her deposition, she hates me. How could it have taken place when I have never taken performance enhancing drugs? How could have that happened?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Andreu said Armstrong ruined her brother's cycling career for simply telling the truth -- I think it was her fiance's cycling career for failing to tell the truth.

It's -- it was a --

SAMBOLIN: It's one of the moments that really stood out for you, wasn't it?

BERMAN: The whole thing was just so disarming to me. Here's a guy who lied for years, who cheated for years, who, you know, attacked for years. And last night, in one 90-minute interview, he says, yes, I lied, I cheated, I'm really sorry.

It was just so surreal. It felt like outer space to me.

SAMBOLIN: You know, I didn't feel like he was flip. I feel like he repeatedly admitted what he did was wrong. I didn't have that sense of him being flippant about it.

I wish -- one thing really struck me and I actually highlighted it. I went back and what he said, "I'm not sure that this is an acceptable answer, but that's like saying we have air in our tires, or we have to have water in our bottles", when he was asked specifically about the doping. You know, kind of -- again, the whole culture, it's like this is what we do. And in order to succeed, in order to be able to win, this is what we have to do.

And so, you know, I thought it was very matter of fact, that all of his answering was very matter of fact.

BERMAN: It was matter of fact, but the lying and cheating was much more than that.

SAMBOLIN: I know, I know.

BERMAN: It was systemic. He did it for a long time, and he hurt a lot of people.

SAMBOLIN: He did.

BERMAN: And now, we're hearing from those people today, which is simply, simply fascinating.

In our next hour, we're going to talk to a pioneer of American cycling, John Eustice. You know, he knows Lance Armstrong. He himself is a two-time U.S. pro champion. He is one of the first to break into the European pro-cycling tour. We're going to ask him his thoughts on what Armstrong said and that's coming up at 6:00.

And breaking down the case again against Lance Armstrong, tomorrow night at 10:00, a closer look at the constant doping chatter that dogged Armstrong for years. You can watch "THE WORLD ACCORDING TO LANCE ARMSTRONG", CNN, Saturday night, 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

SAMBOLIN: I'm really curious about the lawsuits that are coming, you know? And if she's going to talk to him about that next. I'm very curious about that.

All right. Nine minutes past the hour.

Turning now to the ongoing hostage standoff in Algeria. British Prime Minister David Cameron is warning that there could be bad news ahead. An unknown number of foreigners are still being held, including possibly still Americans. A number of people are dead, we don't know who, after Algerian forces fired on SUVs leaving the gas plant.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this: "This incident will be resolved, we hope with a minimum loss of life. But when you deal with these relentless terrorists, life is not in any way precious to them."

Matthew Chance is joining us now from London with the latest details.

And, Matthew, reports that the Algerian military attempted to rescue these hostages late Thursday night, they are saying the raid was over, Britain is saying that the crisis continues. What happened? And where do we stand right now?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It all sorts of feeds into the sense of confusion that there is surrounding this whole incident and surrounding the decision by the Algerians to go in and try and rescue the hostages and end the situation without consulting the White House or any other leaders of countries involved. For instance, here in Britain, there are perhaps as many as 20 British nationals who were taken hostage, although that figure is yet to be confirmed.

And, you know, David Cameron, the British prime minister, has appeared on British television, visibly angry at the fact that he was not consulted before this Algerian operation went ahead. And he took the opportunity on national media here last night to talk about how the country should be prepared for more bad news. There's already been at least one British national confirmed dead. Others as well from other countries. So, the expectation is that death toll will rise.

And it does seem, according to the Algerians, that their military -- at least the military elements of their operation has come to an end and it shifted more to a search operation there are reports that there may still be militants and hostages inside that gas plant in the remote desert in Algeria. But, again, very difficult to get a clear picture.

We're expecting a statement to the British parliament within the next 45 minutes. And so, hopefully, we'll have some clarity then, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Matthew Chance, live for us in London, thank you very much.

BERMAN: Eleven minutes after the hour right now.

And a dangerous winter snow dumping heavy snow, heavy rain across the Deep South, all the way to the Washington, D.C. area. States as far as Mississippi and Alabama got close a half a foot of heavy snow. It snapped power lines and rains pushed rivers and streams over the banks and triggered dangerous mudslides like this one that tore right through a road at a state park in North Carolina.

Jennifer Delgado is tracking the winter storm threat for us. Hey, Jennifer.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, John. You're right.

And the good news is, the storm system is out of here. But look at some of these snowfall totals. Locations across Virginia, six inches of snowfall in addition to heavy rainfall. And that's why you saw that video of the landslide coming in out of North Carolina. We had reports unconfirmed of more than a foot of snow through parts of Virginia. So, things were a lot quieter than what they were yesterday. Yesterday, we had the snow, we had the rain, but here is our storm system pulling away.

We are going to see chance for snow working for areas, including Wisconsin, that overall, Interstate 95, Washington, D.C., New York, you are going to be looking nice today and we certainly need a break from all of the precipitation.

And we're also talking warm temperatures through parts of the Central Plains. You can see the Northern Plains, temperatures are going to be running about 15 degrees above average.

Out in the West, for areas including Washington, as well as Oregon, you will deal with fog around in some of the locations up to noon. That's going to lead to some travel delays. But here are your warm temperatures for the afternoon. They're really not looking so bad at all, 60s to the South and 46 for Albuquerque.

John, it's Friday. So the weather is looking better. So this is good timing.

BERMAN: You know, it's Friday, I'll grant you that, which is a good thing in and of itself.

Jennifer Delgado, thanks very much.

DELGADO: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: It is 13 minutes past the hour.

More questions and not many answers in the continuing saga of Notre Dame's Manti Te'o. The latest twist in the fake girlfriend hoax, that's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START.

The mystery deepens about whether Notre Dame star football player Manti Te'o was victim of an elaborate hoax or helped perpetrate it. By now, you know the story, one that we all, we all wanted to believe. Te'o leading the Fighting Irish to the BCS national title game driven by the memory of his dead girlfriend.

But the girlfriend turned out to be a fake, an Internet invention, or maybe something invented in his own head. Everyone had been talking about this, except Te'o himself.

CNN's Ted Rowlands is live in South Bend, Indiana. And, Ted, Te'o still hasn't done any interviews. But this story is not going away. Is there any sense that he at some point will be forced to come out and give us an explanation?

ROWLANDS: Well, the pressure is going to continue to build, Zoraida. He won't -- you know, you can't force somebody to talk. However, he is going to receive a lot of pressure and some of that pressure is going to build from here at the university. And up until now, the university has backed him 100 percent, saying that they believe he was just a victim in this.

However, part of the deal for the University of Notre Dame, not to come forward with this after December 26th was because they said, all right, this is your deal. You come out when are you ready at the appropriate time, but there was an understanding that he would come out and make this public and he hasn't done it yet. As that time continues to build up, the pressure will build from the university for him to come clean.

SAMBOLIN: "Sports Illustrated" reporter Peter Thamel released a transcript from an interview that he did with Te'o last year. And looking at that interview, can we glean any information about what he knew or he didn't know about this supposed girlfriend? I read it in detail. We've been discussing it for hours.

What do you take away from it?

ROWLANDS: Well, it is fascinating, because and specifically because he's asking Te'o about his girlfriend and specifics, and Te'o doesn't know the answers. Specifically in one section, he's asking him about what her major is in school, when she graduated, and he's fumbling back with 2011, 2010, 2011. He wasn't sure. He was going to go back and check.

And it's fascinating of course, in retrospect, to see that that might have been a red flag, that something was amiss here. But because of Manti Te'o's persona, a red flag didn't come up from this reporter, because he obviously didn't call Stanford to see if she'd actually graduated or this might have started unraveling a lot earlier.

SAMBOLIN: If you continue reading in that article, he does talk about some of the things he attempted to do -- and I'm talking about the reporter here -- in order to find some background information. But it was really difficult for him to do so, so he just started removing things from his article.

So, here is my next question. What about Te'o's NFL prospects? Does this put him in jeopardy at all?

ROWLANDS: Well, here's the thing -- the NFL has a rich history of giving people with less than stellar backgrounds an opportunity on the field. Let's be honest, this is a business. If a team believes that he is going to perform on the field, the off the field thing will be taken way grain of salt.

However, one of the things that NFL teams absolutely do is look at the character of a player, because -- especially first rounders, they're investing millions of dollars in these individuals and if they have the uh-oh feeling, if you will, with a player, they will not take him.

He may drop in the draft, but someone will take him, I'm sure, and roll the dice. SAMBOLIN: Yes, I'm sure, too. At the end of the day, he's a great football player.

So, we're also learning a bit more about a friend of Te'o's that is allegedly involved in the hoax. "Us Weekly" says that he auditioned for the voice. What are the details on that? I have a hard time pronouncing his name. I'm hoping that you know how to produce them.

ROWLANDS: Tuiasosopo.

And the thing is, this young man who was out in California, you know, we don't know if he is the mastermind behind this. But there are things that are pointing in his direction, and the other thing pops up, he apparently auditions to "The Voice", and he had an elaborate story about a band in a horrible car accident, the same thing we heard with Manti Te'o's girlfriend. It's just more fodder and more -- you know, adds another wrinkle into this very complicated and bizarre story.

SAMBOLIN: Ted, what do we know about his relationship with Manti Te'o, though?

ROWLANDS: Well, we're not sure, but Deadspin apparently believed in the original article that there was a connection, that they knew each other. But, again, you know, we don't know that this Tuiasosopo is the actual mastermind behind this. It's just one of the moving pieces.

And the problem here, too, is that there really isn't a law enforcement investigation going on in this, so we may not know all of the answers here unless Manti Te'o does come forward and answers very specific questions about all of this. And when that will happen, if that will happen, we just don't know.

SAMBOLIN: You know what? Notre Dame said when they came out, released their statement, they said that there was an ongoing investigation.

So, do you know what type of investigation that is?

ROWLANDS: They hired a private investigator out of the gate to look into this. And they determined that it was some sort of fishing investigation. They say they forwarded what they have to authorities. But we don't know any details in terms of where that investigation is going.

But it's not, at this point, a criminal investigation, because, quite frankly, no crime at all was committed.

SAMBOLIN: No crime was committed, yes.

ROWLANDS: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely true.

Ted Rowlands live in South Bend, Indiana, thank you so much. The plot thickens.

BERMAN: You know, we have to take a break from the Te'o story to talk about Lance Armstrong today. But there really two stories and they are so fascinating.

SAMBOLIN: I agree, yes.

BERMAN: All right. Twenty-two minutes after the hour right now.

Wall Street has waited years for a day like this. Coming up, the factors that helped move stocks to some of the highest levels since the financial crisis.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Minding your business this morning.

U.S. stocks futures trading mixed ahead of the opening bell. Big day for corporate earnings today.

SAMBOLIN: And we saw a big day for the markets yesterday. Christine has all the details.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It was a nice day if you are a stock investor. I mean, look at the S&P 500, the best day, the best levels now for the S&P 500 since the financial crisis. So, it has been five years now where the stock market has been coming back.

And if you look at the stock market, S&P 500 since February 2009, you can see the S&P 500 has doubled. Remember those dark days at the bottom in 2009, when people are bailing out like crazy? Well, that actually turned out to be the absolute time to get back in.

What pushed markets up yesterday? Good news on the housing market. New home sales, building is coming back in housing, look, we have a long way to go. But it is coming back.

And jobs -- jobless claims were at five-year low, that pushed stocks to a five-year high.

Quickly, I want to tell you that investors are starting to believe it finally after being pessimistic quite frankly all of last year. Investors have poured record money into stocks for the first nine days of the year, $8 billion. You can see that spike on the right.

I've been telling you, this is the rally you've all missed, because hedge funds and individual investors have been cautious over the past year, so they missed much of this. Now, it looks like at the beginning of the year, after the move -- after the move, people really moving.

I will be watching Intel today. Intel had disappointing earnings report. Stocks was down 5 percent after the close. Intel, we'll be watching that one very closely, its profit fell sharply. Also, we get Morgan Stanley and I think General Electric this morning. So, I'll be watching those earnings. Those could direct trade in the morning.

BERMAN: Very interesting. I didn't realize so much money going back into the market.

ROMANS: Money going back into the market. After doubles, people are convinced. That's the way it works, right?

SAMBOLIN: Thanks, Christine.

Twenty-seven minutes past the hour.

We knew Lance Armstrong was confessing to Oprah. But it's another thing to actually see it and to hear him do it. We'll have more of that for you, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)