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Lance Armstrong Admits He Doped; Hostage Standoff In Algeria; Armstrong Lied to Us All for Years; Snow and Mudslides in the South; Te'o "Girlfriend" Mystery Deepens; S&P 500 Closes at 5-Year High

Aired January 18, 2013 - 06:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Lance Armstrong's life after his confession. Now that American has seen it, will there be forgiveness?

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hostage crisis in the desert. Americans still believe to be among the captives that's after a risky rescue attempt fails to free all of them.

BERMAN: Power struggle in the southeast. Wet heavy snow drops trees and powerlines affecting tens of thousands of home and businesses.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. An awful lot to talk about this morning. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is Friday, January 18th. It is 6:00 a.m. in the east. So let's get started.

You know we'll start with Lance Armstrong. For years, he cheated. For years he lied about it, and all the while winning the admiration of millions of fans and raking him a lot of money as well.

But last night, he came clean to Oprah Winfrey. In a gripping interview, the disgraced cycling legend told Winfrey point blank that he doped to win each of his seven consecutive Tour De France titles. Every single one of them he said yes.

He admitted he systematically lied about doping and then ruthlessly attacked his accusers. The 90-minute interview on the Oprah Winfrey Network began with a series of yes or no questions.


OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: 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. 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, cortizone, 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.


SAMBOLIN: I got to tell you that I watched it, I read it, and I'm still hanging on to every word. George Howell is in Austin, Texas, a city that Armstrong calls home. George, you live there as well. What are people saying about this interview?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Zoraida, fascinating, insightful, disappointing. You know, this is a person who I remember what it was like covering Lance, you know, some 12 years ago when he was coming along. It was electric in the city.

He inspired people, not only as an athlete, but also as a cancer survivor and then came years of more winning, but also years of lies and deceit and now this is -- excuse me. This is what we're left with.

You can tell that a lot of people here had mix feelings about Lance. Watching the interview was tough for a lot of people.

SAMBOLIN: I can only imagine. So you know, Armstrong did admit to doping during his seven wins at the Tour De France, but he did not admit to doping during his later comeback. It's really hard to believe him because he is going to have a very hard time with credibility, isn't he?

HOWELL: Well, fair to say, yes. And it was interesting in the interview, he even indicated that he might have gotten away with it, had it not been for the come back, back out cycling, he couldn't duplicate that same performance when he was doping. Take a listen to what he said during the interview.


WINFREY: So when you placed third in 2009, you did not dope?

ARMSTRONG: No, and again, the biological passport was in place, and it was -- WINFREY: OK, does that include blood transfusions?

ARMSTRONG: Absolutely.

WINFREY: You did not do a blood transfusion in 2009.

ARMSTRONG: Absolutely not.

WINFREY: You did no doping or blood transfusions in 2010?

ARMSTRONG: It's 2009 or 2010. Those are two years I did the tour, absolutely not.


HOWELL: So he was adamant about that, that he did not dope during those years, but, again, says that, you know, it was clear that was a red flag, one of the things that raised suspicion -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: And you know, we played in the beginning those questions that she asked. Everybody wanted to know that he answered yes to, did you use this, did do that? But the other big question that people wanted to know is why he did it. What did he tell Oprah?

HOWELL: Well, he described himself as sort of a win at all cost character and this is the case, especially after his cancer diagnosis. You know, he would do whatever it took to survive. When it came to his performance as a cyclist was doping. He described it as something that, you know, was common place.

It was just something that needed to be done in order to perform the way he expected to perform. He described himself also as person who wanted to control the narrative in all cases. He wanted to control that ability to win and found more excitement in the process of preparing for races than the actual win. Really it was more about getting ready and controlling the process for him -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right, George Howell, live for us in Austin, thank you very much.

BERMAN: All right, we're going to take a quick break from Lance Armstrong. We will come back to that story because it is fascinating. There are so much more to talk about.

We want to go straight away to Britain, where the prime minister there, David Cameron is speaking about the hostage crisis in Algeria, as we know, there was a raid where some hostages were free, but also some were killed. We need to learn more details. Let's listen.


DAVID CAMERON, PRIME MINISTER, BRITAIN: -- assist them with evacuation plans if needed. Mr. Speaker, we need to be absolutely clear whose fault this is. It's the terrorist who are responsible for this attack for the loss of life. The action of these extremists can never be justified. We'll be resolute in our determination to fight terrorism and stand with the Algerian government who have paid a heavy rice over many years fighting against a savage terrorist campaign.

This is a continuing situation and we'll do our best to keep parliament and the public updated. We hope this will reach a conclusion shortly. And there will be a moment to learn, and I commend the statement to the House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Speaker, can I stop by thanking the prime minister for his statement and let me say to him on behalf of the opposition, that the government has our full support.


BERMAN: All right, that was the British Prime Minister David Cameron talking about the hostage crisis in Algeria where there was a raid where some hostages were freed. There are also some hostages killed. We have a few more details about how some hostages managed to escape here.

Forgive me for reading off my computer here, but some actually disguised themselves as part of a catering company to sneak out during moments of chaos and managed to get through. One French national were told hid under a bed for more than 40 hours.

It's sound like a terrifying situation there. British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has expressed some regret that the British government was uninformed of the hostage raid to free them before it happened as we said.

SAMBOLIN: As well as the U.S. government and we're still uncertain as to how many American hostages could potentially still be in captivity. We're trying to get the answer to all of those questions for you and we are going to have a live report coming up for you as well shortly.

BERMAN: All right, but let's get back to Lance Armstrong now. A story we are all been talking about in this country since the interview last night. We want to bring in John Eustice, a two-time U.S. professional cycling champion. He is now a cycling analyst.

John called Lance Armstrong's first Tour De France victory. John, let me ask you right off the bat simply what did you hear last night?

JOHN EUSTICE, TWO-TIME U.S. PROFESSIONAL CYCLING CHAMPION: I hear a Lance Armstrong who is actually trying to come to terms with the new phase in his life. You know, you will never get a weepy I'm sorry emotion out of Lance Armstrong. It's not going to happen.

SAMBOLIN: Why? Is that because of his personality?

EUSTICE: Because that's what he is, he is a tough, hard guy. For Lance, that was pretty good for the way I know him, but I think he made his best effort to put the truth out there. He admitted, and tried to explain and admitted his own doping, the culture of not only cycling, but professional sports, and I think it's not what everybody wants, and a fairly brave first effort.

BERMAN: You said he tried to talk about the doping culture in cycling. He said at the time that he did not feel what he was doing was actually cheating. Let's listen to that.


ARMSTRONG: I had this exercise, because I kept hearing I was a cheat, I'm a cheater. And I looked up the definition of cheat.


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


BERMAN: So the definition I found of cheating the dictionary said actually breaking the rules. It's clear he broke the rules, but he has a little bit of a different definition. Was it happening all over the place?

EUSTICE: It's the same in any professional sport. Baseball players use amphetamines, football players, painkillers, steroids and HGH. These pro athletes look at this as tools of the trade. They don't look at it as something they are doing illegal. I say this is what we need to do to compete at this level.

At that time -- you have to remember, cycling is old. It's a 19th Century sport. And the first 60 years of existence, the idea of stimulants and painkillers as illegal or something wrong was not even considered. It's just part of the job, as many other old sports like that.

And then what happened in the mid '80s and into the mid '90s when he began to do it, I think about 1995 is when he started. This drug hit the market called EPO. It was so powerful and so effective. It was like an infection on this microsociety. And it came to a point where you either had to use it or basically not even pin on your number.

SAMBOLIN: That was kind of the impression he was giving last night, right? Did you had to use it or else you would not be competitive. You said something on "STARTING POINT" on Wednesday. You were expecting Armstrong to blow the lid off of doping in cycling. Do you think that he did that last night?

EUSTICE: Not at all.

SAMBOLIN: Did he accomplish that?

EUSTICE: He talked about himself.

SAMBOLIN: Why do you think he didn't?

EUSTICE: Because I think he's holding that back as negotiation with the World Anti-Doping Association. I any he wants to do it. I think he can do it. I think he can actually be -- despite all his faults, he has great qualities as well.

It's the iceberg personality. He is a person capable of really opening up the world, not just of cycling, but the world of international sport, Olympic sport, professional American sport and showing everyone how it's done.

But I believe he wants something in return for that. He wants to be able to compete. And I believe if he does get that, he will go in, talk about networks and the next part of the story, which is going to be the big part. This is the only beginning of the story. The money behind it, how that worked, that's the real story.

BERMAN: And investigators want to know about that. We do have three parts of this, there's the cheating, there's the lying, and then there's the ruthless attacks of the people calling who have been calling him out on it for years.

One of these people was Betsy Andreu who was connected in this for a long time. She was the fiance and the sister of cyclists and Lance Armstrong went after her hard. Oprah asked him about this last night. Let's listen.


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

ARMSTRONG: I'm not going to take that on, 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.


BERMAN: So I guess my question to you is the cycling community -- what's the word within the cycling community? Are they willing to forgive these attacks and to forgive how hard he was on so many people?

EUSTICE: No, the cycling community, they are outraged. There's an uproar. The blogosphere is going mad. They really hate what he's done. He is excellent villain, Lance, like Barry Bonds. He is a very good target. He has created this corruption against him.

There was this crew in New York. This is a small web site, It really went after him for years and years and years. They have been quite accurate about their analysis, and they have created a giant following of Lance haters if you will. It's not just them, but across the board, and the community feels betrayed.

BERMAN: Has he done enough to fix that?

EUSTICE: No. No, I don't think he ever will. But what he can do is, besides the relatively small cycling community. Again, he can be an influence. If all this goes right and everyone plays the proper way and realizes that he is a powerful figure, they can do something. That he can be a key factor in changing the world of sport and the way it works. That I think will be his legacy. What he wants to be his legacy going forward.

BERMAN: You have to prove it, but we'll see. John Eustice, great talking to you this morning. Really appreciate having you.

SAMBOLIN: Appreciate having you. Hope you will come back and talk to us some more as we have more revelations. Thank you.

All right, breaking down the case 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" on CNN Saturday night 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

BERMAN: Other news besides Lance, besides everything else is a dangerous winter storm hitting a big chunk of the country. Still dumping heavy rain, heavy snow, across the deep south, all the way to the Washington, D.C. area, where they are preparing for the inauguration right now.

States as far south as Mississippi and Alabama got close to half a foot of snow, it's snapped power lines and pushed rivers and streams over their banks. There were some really dangerous mudslides like this one that tore right through a state park in North Carolina. Jennifer Delgado is tracking all of this for us. Good morning, Jennifer.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, guys. You know, that storm system was certainly a tough one out there causing flooding problems and snow totals in some locations up to 6 inches like in Virginia and parts of North Carolina.

Now on the radar, we're nice and quiet. That storm system pulling away from the east coast. That means the northeast. New England, down toward the south, we are going to got a break from bad weather.

We will see some snow arriving in parts of Wisconsin. That really starts to get in later in the day. Now, while we're dry on the radar, keep in mind, temperatures are very close to freezing or below freezing for many parts that dealt with this precipitation yesterday.

That means you are missing the potential for black ice out there. We are going to warm very nicely today. Look at those temperatures in the 50s, Minneapolis, 39, Denver, 56. Temperatures are running about 15 degrees above average for parts of the central plains as high pressure is going to be building back in.

But the one problem we are watching, the Pacific Northwest and that is fog that's going to be affecting parts of Washington, as well as for areas like Oregon. There is the snow we talked about developing to the north, as we go through today and tomorrow.

We also want to point out, we will have the official swearing in ceremony forecast coming up and it looks like there might be a chance of snow. I'll let you know more about that in just a moment. Remember, back in 2009, it was cold during the public swearing in. It's 28 degrees.

BERMAN: We'll have to bundle up.


BERMAN: All right. Jennifer Delgado, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

SAMBOLIN: All right. You caught us telling John Eustice to hang tight. So, he still hangs with us.

BERMAN: All right. Fifteen minutes after the hour right now. More questions, not many answers in the continuing saga of Notre Dame's Manti Te'o. The latest twist on the fake girlfriend hoax, coming up.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. We're still waiting to hear more -- really, hear anything from Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o on his heartbreaking story that gripped the nation, but turned out to be false. There was no girlfriend whose memory was said to fuel his excellence on the football field and there are many questions still to be answered in this bizarre story.

Chief among them, was Te'o the victim of an elaborate hoax was or was he somehow part of it?

CNN's Ted Rowlands is live in South Bend, Indiana, with the latest. Hey, Ted.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. The pressure continues to build on Manti Te'o. Quite frankly, he doesn't have to talk, but a lot of people would love for him to answer questions. And some of the pressure in the next few days is going to come from this university, because part of the deal that Notre Dame brokered with Te'o was that, all right, we're not going to tell your story. We're going to tell your story when you want to, at the appropriate time, after the national championship game.

Well, it's time in their eyes, and they were anticipating he would say something yesterday or today. That doesn't appear to be on the schedule, at least publicly. He apparently was going to do an ESPN interview. ESPN tweeted it was coming yesterday, and then they tweeted that the interview has been canceled.

So, you're going to see pressure building from the university, who -- that obviously has backed him until this point, but if he doesn't come clean, I think you're going to see them feeling slighted by that and build on that pressure. BERMAN: All right. So, Ted, Pete Thamel of "Sports Illustrated" released a transcript from an interview he did with Te'o at the beginning of the year, looking at the whole -- beginning of last year's football season -- looking at, you know, whole supposed tragedy of his girlfriend. A lot of us have been going through the transcript for this interview, doing a forensic analysis of exact words he used.

What are we learning here?

ROWLANDS: Well, its' fascinating in hindsight to go back and look at this, because there are innocuous questions about his girlfriend, really. When did she graduate, what was her major?

And you see that in -- if you read the transcripts, a little bit of the there, just a little segment of it. You read that on your screen, you see that Te'o doesn't know the answers to those questions. At one point he says, oh, I can go back and check.

And, of course, the reason he didn't know likely because either it wasn't discussed with this fictitious girlfriend or he wasn't discussing anything with anybody. That's the key. Was it that Te'o didn't know because he hadn't really gotten information from this person, or was the whole thing false and was he in on it? And this interview, it's fascinating to look at the transcript in hindsight.

BERMAN: That's right. Only adds to the whole mystery. Ted Rowlands in South Bend, Indiana -- thanks very much.

SAMBOLIN: So many questions. Hopefully, he will talk, or release another statement or something, and enlighten us all here.

Twenty-one minutes past the hour. Wall Street has waited years for a day like this. Coming up, the factors that helped move stocks to some of the highest level since the financial crisis.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. We are minding your business this morning. U.S. stock futures are trading mixed ahead of the opening bell. Big day for corporate earning today.

BERMAN: And a big day for the markets yesterday. Christine has all the details.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I know. Well, we're at a five-year high for S&P 500. Dow had a very nice day as well. You have two good reports. You had a housing number that was good.

And jobless claims, five-year low, get it? Five-year high for jobless claims, five-year high for stocks. That's how they all finished.

The Dow up 84, NASDAQ up 18, S&P 500 up eight. And what does that mean for the S&P, it means it has doubled since February 2009. Doubled. Look at the chart. Doubled.

At the beginning of that chart, the whole world was saying, oh, boy. We got to get out of stocks. This is terrible. That was exactly the right time to get into stocks because it has gone up, up, up ever since then.

As I mentioned, housing market doing a little bit better. That's going to be adding to American growth this year. Housing prices are rising, housing starts are rising, home sales are rising, mortgage rates are very, very low, and a lot of investors with cash are investing in the housing market, and the job situation, slowly, slowly improving. You like to see it better, but it's -- you know, coming along, that's the best I can say about it.

We're going to get Morgan Stanley and G.E. earnings this morning, so that will be incredibly important for the direction of stocks today, and we'll also be watching Intel. Intel shares likely to be down, they were down after the bell yesterday. Intel had a report that was pretty disappointing from Intel.

Investors, meantime, pouring money into the stock market, you guys. Investors, suddenly, I guess after I guess doubling over the past five years, now, they are convinced. And take a look at -- this is a chart that shows you how much money investors are putting into stock mutual funds.

Look at that very far right. Now, they are convinced at the beginning part of the year after five-year highs.

BERMAN: Five-year highs. Sometimes, that's what it feels like around here.

What's the one thing we need to know about our money this morning?

ROMANS: The one thing, we're in the fourth quarter of our recovery. Let's put it in basketball terms. That's the way that the outgoing Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner did. It was in "Wall Street Journal" yesterday.

In basketball terms, he said, we're in a fourth quarter of recovery. When asked about Europe, well, they are more like in the second quarter. But fourth quarter of the recovery, that's what the treasury secretary said.

SAMBOLIN: How long is that fourth going to last? Is it going to go to overtime?

BERMAN: So, if we stand the metaphor, if they blow the whole debt ceiling, is that a technical foul?

ROMANS: Oh, and you're going to overtime. How many overtimes? Oh, wow. It's more complicated than that, Mr. Treasury Secretary.

SAMBOLIN: Thanks, Christine.

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

And we knew that Lance Armstrong was confessing to Oprah, confessing to something. It's another thing to actually see and hear him do it. We're going to have a lot more of that for you, coming up.