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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Lance Armstrong Admits To Doping; What's Next For Lance Armstrong?; Hostage Standoff In Algeria; Aurora Theater Reopens; Snow And Mudslides In The South; That's Got To Hurt; Athletes On A Pedestal; Manti Te'o "Girlfriend" Mystery Deepens

Aired January 18, 2013 - 07:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: -- that you were cheating?

LANCE ARMSTRONG, CYCLIST: No. The scariest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Did those admissions go far enough and what happens next? What's next for Lance Armstrong? We're going to talk with Reed Albergotti this morning. He is a legal reporter for "The Wall Street Journal" who has reported extensively on Armstrong and sports agent Drew Rosenhaus is with us as well. It's nice to have you, gentlemen. Appreciate your time.

Drew, I'm going to begin with you if I can. Did it work? Did what Lance Armstrong needed to do last night was he effective in doing it?

DREW ROSENHAUS, SPORTS AGENT, ROSENHAUS SPORTS: We won't know for a while whether or not it worked or not. It depends what his objectives are, but this is a start. For him to have an opportunity to get back into the public eye and become an athlete or a personality, or someone who hopes to make money professionally again in the public eye, this was the very beginning. You have to admit you made a mistake. Come clean, apologize, and then you can rebuild from there.

O'BRIEN: USADA has made it very clear, Reed, that it -- you can do a million interviews with Oprah, that is not going to work for them that there is sort of this legal testifying thing that he is going to have to go through before they are going to even consider dropping his lifetime ban.

REED ALBERGOTTI, LEGAL REPORTER, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Yes, absolutely. I mean, this has no bearing on whether he can go back to competing in triathlons at all. And USADA has been very clear about that. And I think that USADA would look at this interview as kind of a gauge about what he might say to them. I don't think they would be satisfied with a lot of those answers.

O'BRIEN: Well, for example, he talked about Dr. Ferrari, who is sort of the centerpiece of the whole doping scandal to some degree. Here's what Lance Armstrong said about this doctor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARMSTRONG: It's hard to talk about some of these things and not mention names, but there are people in this story, let me say this, that they're good people. OK, and we've all made mistakes and there are people in this story who are not monsters. Not toxic and they are not evil. And I viewed Michele Ferrari as a good man and a smart man and I still do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: If USADA is looking for a sense on where he is going to go, when you're focused on someone who many has pointed out as an absolute centerpiece of the doping scandal, they can't hear that and be very satisfied.

I want to actually bring in Nicole Cooke. She is a cyclist and a 2008 Olympic champion. So Nicole, nice to have you joining us. What do you make of some of the lines that, in fact, Lance Armstrong was drawing?

He wouldn't talk about Dr. Ferrari. He would not speak about some very specific things. How problematic is that for the things that he did say about the sport?

All right, I think -- Nicole, I'm sorry. We're having some audio problems, try to work those out. Let me ask the same question of you. I mean, so they are looking to see what he is going to say. And what he says about the guy at the center piece of the scandal is he is actually not evil. He is a good guy. He is a smart and a nice man.

ALBERGOTTI: Yes, and you know what? That may be true. I think he is right. I mean, not only are there people who aren't monsters. I think the majority of people in this story are probably good people. They got caught up in, you know, cheating and doping in the sport, which was very common.

But that isn't going to work. I mean, he is going to have to name names. He is going to talk -- he is going to have to talk openly and honestly about all of these people involved. He also denied that there were even payoffs, you know, to the UCI, the sports governing body that is something he has been accused of.

He denied that he ever pressured other athletes. That's something athletes actually accused him of in sworn affidavits.

O'BRIEN: He denied that he doped in 2009 and 2010. If anything he was very adamant about that. Let's play that chunk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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: Did you not do a blood transfusion in 2009.

ARMSTRONG: Absolutely not.

WINFREY: No doping or blood transfusions in 2010.

ARMSTRONG: So 2009 and 2010. Those are the two years I did the tour. Absolutely not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Let's get right to Nicole. Nicole, does he have to admit to everything and come clean for your sport to move forward?

NICOLE COOKE, CYCLIST/2008 OLYMPIC CHAMPION: Definitely, yes, from my point of view. You know, we haven't even scratched the surface. Oprah isn't an expert on the ins and outs of cycling and what happens with the anti doping.

I really hope that Lance Armstrong can be put under oath and actually have to answer those hard questions about what is happening, but I find it crazy that Lance Armstrong can say he took drugs to level the playing field.

And in 2009 and 2010, he didn't need to take drugs. So what happened to the level playing field and un-level playing field? There are far too many questions and gaps in his story.

O'BRIEN: And so many questions that he did not tackle. At one point, Drew, he said to Oprah, I never tested positive. And it was almost like a point that he was stuck on. I never tested positive and she's sort of saying.

But you -- you were using EPO in those years. Why are you sticking to this claim? How much is a problem the way he's positioning this going to be for whatever rehabilitation, whatever public embrace that he wants, before he can get that?

ALBERGOTTI: The number one thing that Lance Armstrong has to do, if he hopes to get back in the public eye and have any credibility, is come completely clean, be totally remorseful, absolutely apologetic.

He cannot continue to be defiant and has to lay it out there, publicly and privately with these agencies and once he does that, then he has a chance to get in the public eye. But he's got to come clean. He's got to be more remorseful, more apologetic, and less defiant.

And then do this with the agencies involved and the legal situations, not just the publicity and the media. If he does that, he has a chance to start over again and get a fresh start.

JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": At the legal situation there, one of the things that always seems strange to me about the story is the idea he would be doing this as somehow to take part in triathlons again.

Like a guy -- you know, he would be satisfied after winning seven-Tour De Frances to do the senior circuit on triathlons, is there a legal aspect to this with the whistle blower suit with Lance Armstrong. Does this public statement help him there?

ALBERGOTTI: No, I don't think it does at all. I mean, I think they are going to look at this and they are going to say, great. You know, at least we have the doping admission and they are going to continue forward, saying, you know, well, look, you admitted to this.

In the contract with the U.S. Postal Service, you swore that you would not dope and not break the rules of cycling. You know, you violated -- you got to pay back that money and the whistle blower suit under the federal false claims act, which you know, you could be liable for treble damages, triple the amount of money, so roughly $100 million.

O'BRIEN: It would be so interesting to see what he says to Oprah tonight. Of course, what happens next? What exactly is his goal? He never really answered that question. Nicole Cooke, thank you for talking with us this morning. Sorry about your audio problems earlier, our apologies for that.

Reed Albergotti, thanks. We appreciate you being with us and Drew Rosenhaus, he is going to stick around with us and talk with us a little bit more later today. Thanks you, guys. We appreciate it.

We're going to talk with Betsy Andreu coming up next. You might remember that she and her husband were attacked verbally by Armstrong after she testified that she had heard Armstrong tell doctors that he was doping. That's ahead this morning. First though, we're going to get back to John to look at some of the day's top stories.

BERMAN: All right, I want to go straight to that hostage crisis in Algeria. That's in its third day now. We have some good news to report. U.S. defense officials tell CNN that a U.S. Air Force aircraft is in the process of evacuating Americans and other foreign nationals who were involved in the standoff. They're being taken out of Algeria right now, will be flown to U.S. facilities in Europe.

Six months after a massacre that left 12 people dead and 58 wounded, the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, reopens to the public today. A private remembrance ceremony was held last night for victims and their families as well as first responders, despite criticisms from some victim's families who say the reopening is part of the recovery process.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARCUS WEAVER, SHOOTING VICTIM: I feel that I'm a different person for coming and it brings about some healing and just like with my arm, things will take a little time to heal and like for this community to truly bond, but I think the theater reopening shows that we're moving forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: Police say they have arrested the man who brutally attacked a woman on a Philadelphia subway platform, throwing her on the train tracks. Now we warn you the video you are about to see here is pretty difficult to watch.

Our affiliate WPBI says the man asked for a lighter Tuesday afternoon, momentarily backed off, then came at her punching the 23-year-old woman, grabbing her by the ankles and throwing her on the subway tracks. Police say the woman climbed out on her own and suffered only bumps and bruises luckily.

Thousands of people without power after a winter storm dumped heavy snow and heavy rain across the Deep South all the way to the Washington, D.C. area. States as far south as Mississippi and Alabama got close to half a foot of snow, wet snow, that snapped power lines.

The rains pushed rivers and streams over their banks and triggered some pretty dangerous mudslides like this one that tore through a road in a state park in North Carolina.

So she is one of the world's best tennis players so it was a little surprising to see Serena Williams kind of face fault at the Australian Open. Serena smacked herself in the face with her racket. Split her lip, she still won her second round match easily in straight sets. It's amazing to see Serena do that. That's a live play.

O'BRIEN: Wow. The force of that racket, that had to really hurt.

Still ahead this morning, they've been revered as inspirational heroes, but in light of that bizarre Manti Te'o fake girlfriend story and of course, Lance Armstrong's doping confession, what do we do about the culture of worshipping athletes? Our Starting Point team headed in to talk about that. We'll be back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. Our team this morning, Richard Socarides is back. He is a writer for newyorker.com, former senior adviser to President Clinton. Representative Nan Hayworth is back too. She is a former Republican congresswoman from New York and Leigh Gallagher joins us this morning, assistant managing editor at "Fortune." Their new cover story highlights the 100 best companies to work for.

It's nice to have you all with us. So you know what's interesting to watching this Lance Armstrong interview last night because to me he seemed to be at a distance to his own story. At one point, he was describing for Oprah like it was a mythic, perfect story.

It was one big lie and you didn't get the sense that he was talking about his own story. It was like the retelling of somebody else's story.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, WRITER, NEWYORKER.COM: Sort of like an out-of-body experience. He was talking about somebody else.

O'BRIEN: So here is a little bit more of what he said about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARMSTRONG: The story was so perfect for so long. And I mean that as I try to take myself out of the situation. I look at it. You overcome the disease. You win the Tour De France seven times. You have a happy marriage. You have children. I mean, it's just this mythic, perfect story and it wasn't true.

WINFREY: And that wasn't true.

ARMSTRONG: And that was not true on a lot of levels.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Almost every single level actually it wasn't true. This all happened the same week that we find out about this Manti Te'o story, which is bizarre and they are sort of a lot of different iterations of what could happen.

We haven't heard specifically yet, just a statement that he's release where he talks about being the victim of a hoax. So I guess my question would be, do we hold players in general up to some kind of standard that they cannot meet or is --

REPRESENTATIVE NAN HAYWORTH, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: We have a culture that wants to win. I think Buzz Bissinger was talking about it. He said, look, you know, these guys are animals about this stuff. They want to compete and win and that's the focus. And it does become a matter of it's a slippery slope. Everybody is enhancing oxygen capacity in their blood. I'm going to do it too.

O'BRIEN: It ties in not only with that, but also everybody wants a great story, Tour De Lance.

LEIGH GALLAGHER, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, "FORTUNE": That's a huge part of it and the other thing here, I mean, to your point. He said it last night. You know, you pumped up your tires. You filled up your water bottle. You did the other stuff. It was just what you did and I think it's very to lose perspective.

But I also think that there is a mania here where people sort of in these positions of fame and glory. And we've seen it with John Edwards. We've seen it with Tiger Woods, the fame, all of it.

These people come to think they are above the law, and almost to a point where they genuinely believe they did nothing wrong. I think there is a delusionary aspect to this. I think he was not remorseful enough and I think he was only there because he got caught. But there is this sort of epic wave of I guess I would call it delusion.

O'BRIEN: Narcissistic personality disorder, I mean, actually, you could tick off the things and it matches very, very closely.

SOCARIDES: Thinking that the rules don't apply to you and I think it's delusional too. I mean, I think all of those people you mentioned are all kind of living in a world that only they inhabit.

BERMAN: The original question was, do we hold them to a standard they can't possibly meet? Sure and -- but no matter how bad --

O'BRIEN: The lying, cheating standard?

BERMAN: No matter how bad we are in the society and media, what happened here especially with Lance goes far beyond not meeting the standard we set. You know, playing by the rules, not lying, not going after people so aggressively in suing them when they are telling the truth all along.

HAYWORTH: That's the terrible thing. Narcissism lends itself sadly to this kind of manic drive for victory.

O'BRIEN: It is so interesting. I am so looking forward to the second half of this interview tonight. So when will we hear from Manti Te'O, right? I mean, that sort of part of the two, lots of questions there.

We're going to bring back Drew Rosenhaus, he is a sports agent, to talk a little bit about what is next for that young man. What does he have to say when he finally does talk?

SOCARIDES: You think Oprah is in his future?

O'BRIEN: He hopes so.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. We're sort of doing sports all morning for unfortunate reasons because, of course, we're following up on the story about Manti Te'o a lot of questions about when he'll talk, maybe he'll have his Oprah sit-down interview.

You remember just two days ago, the story of his girlfriend went from a tragic story to an absolutely bizarre story. Now everybody is trying to figure out who was the one who created the fake girlfriend. Was he the victim of a cruel hoax or was he the perpetrator of a hoax.

Te'o is currently at football camp in Florida getting ready for the NFL draft. He was expected to be a first round pick, but questions now about it does it change? Drew Rosenhaus is back with us. He is a sports agent, founder of the Rosenhaus Sports, a sports representation agency, about 170 players.

Let me ask you a question about the draft. Does it make a difference this controversy because we really don't know what the truth is here?

ROSENHAUS: Yes. And the NFL will get to the bottom of it. Manti Te'o will be interviewed by every team in the NFL, exclusively, and the truth should come out. He's not one of my clients, but if he was, the first thing I would tell him is, young man, you've got to be forthright, come clean, tell the NFL if you're the victim of a hoax, or if you were involved in this. You've got to tell the truth.

O'BRIEN: There is -- ROSENHAUS: And if he tells the truth --

O'BRIEN: Yes. I was going to say --

ROSENHAUS: If he tells the truth --

O'BRIEN: What happens?

ROSENHAUS: -- I think he'll be fine. I think the NFL will draft him in the first round and he can have a fine career.

O'BRIEN: But doesn't that depend on what the truth is, right? If the truth is I was the perpetrator of a fraud, will the NFL be fine of that, OK, yes, or does that really impact his standings in the NFL draft?

ROSENHAUS: Well, if he is involved with this hoax and he says he's not and I'd like to believe him at his word, if he's a victim of this and he was gullible or whatever you want to call it, the reality is that it will not have a significant effect on his draft status.

If the NFL teams investigate this and he was not involved in the hoax or was in any way fraudulent, I don't believe it will have a significant effect. On the other hand, if he was involved with this, then that is very serious, and I do think it would impact him.

If he's genuine about it and he admits he made a mistake assuming that he was involved in any type of fraudulent activity, if he knew about the hoax and he participated in it, but he still came clean.

And he was genuine and remorseful, I believe an NFL team would still take him in the first round and give the young man a chance to continue with his career and learn from this significant mistake.

BERMAN: Drew, John Berman here, he had one of his worst games Manti Te'o did in the BCS Championship game after he knew and Notre Dame knew that this whole thing had fallen apart one way or another.

Is there a concern that this might be in his head now? Do you think that NFL teams will think, look, you know, clearly he's not got something going on that might affect his play?

ROSENHAUS: Not over the long haul. I think it was a controversy that was about to explode, so it certainly might have distracted him. But I think once he gets into the NFL, this should be behind him. He can move forward.

We've seen many examples of NFL players over the years that have gone through significant controversies or tragedies that have been able to move forward. I definitely think that football players are coached and taught to have a short memory, put distractions behind them.

I don't think this will have a significant impact on his future career or his draft status. It's a big story now, but I think as long as he addresses it with the team and his agents tell him and they prepare him, be honest. First and foremost, be honest with the team. Be convincing, tell the truth.

O'BRIEN: That's everybody saying that, like, somebody tell us what exactly happened here. Drew Rosenhaus, thanks, Drew. Appreciate it. It's nice to talk to you.

ROSENHAUS: Sure.

O'BRIEN: And of course, unlike Lance Armstrong, Manti is going to have an opportunity to play, right. I mean, sometimes just being great removes a lot of questions and you get to move forward with your life I think in a way that Lance Armstrong may not be able to.

BERMAN: There's a lot of jawing that goes on in the football game over that line and I just can't help thinking what the guys in the other team are going to say to him.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, while others believed Lance Armstrong's denials, the wife of a former teammate testified that he was doping and he attacked her for it. Well, now Betsy Andreu has this to say about his confession --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You owed to me, Lance and you dropped the ball after what you've done to me and what you've done to my family and you couldn't own up to it. And now we're supposed to believe you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: We're going to talk to Betsy Andreu live straight ahead. And actress, Angie Harmon joins us, the star of (inaudible) is fighting to end child trafficking. We'll talk about her new passion. Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, one big lie, Lance Armstrong admitting he cheated for years despite his very public and passionate denials. We'll break down his full confession and then really ask is he genuinely sorry.

Plus, we'll talk with Betsy Andreu. She is one of the people whose reputation he attacked after she testified that he doped.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Wall Street rising, the S&P 500 closes at a five-year high. I'll tell you what's behind the big boost.

BERMAN: And we have a new development of the hostage situation overseas. Americans are now being evacuated from Algeria, details in a moment.

O'BRIEN: It's Friday, January 18th, and STARTING POINT begins right now. Good morning. Welcome, everybody. Our team this morning, Richard Socarides is a writer for newyorker.com, former senior adviser to President Clinton. Representative Nan Hayworth is a former Republican congresswoman from New York.

Leigh Gallagher is the assistant managing editor, "Fortune" magazine. John Berman is sticking around. He is the "EARLY START" co-anchor. It's nice to have you all with us.