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Top U.S. Speed Skater Banned; Banned Speed Skater Speaks Out; Impact Your World; 24 Hours Treading Water; Fisherman Stranded in the Gulf; Fisherman Stranded in the Gulf; Knight Rider Cruises Again

Aired August 27, 2013 - 08:30   ET


RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And as he grew up, he turned into a real star in the Olympic movement. He won a bronze medal at the Vancouver Olympics when he was just 18 and he's since won at the world championships. As the Sochi Olympics approached, he was already being billed as the next Apolo Ohno, except now he won't be at the Sochi Olympics.


NICHOLS (voice-over): The Olympic sport of speed skating is not exactly the first place you'd expect tales of sabotage and scandal, but American Simon Cho was suspended this week for tampering with the skates of a Canadian rival. The decision by the International Skating Union means Cho will not be able to compete in the Olympics in Sochi in February, a huge hit to the U.S. team that had been counting on Cho as one of its best and brightest.

Cho won a bronze medal in Vancouver in 2010. He was also crowned a world champion in 2011, although he has since confessed that at that competition he secretly bent Canadian Olivier Jean's skate blade while alone in a locker room the Americans and the Canadians shared. Cho says he didn't want to commit the crime. He only did it after being badgered by a former coach. The coach, Jae Su Chun, has denied the account, although he too was suspended.

The whole incident coincides with the approaching 20th anniversary of another Olympic skating sabotage scandal, the attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan by associates of her rival, Tanya Harding. And while bending a competitor's skate blade before a race is hardly on the level of taking a metal club to someone's knee, Cho's suspension has reminded those in the Olympic community, the ice rink might just be a more treacherous place than it looks.


NICHOLS: Sabotaging an opponent really considered one of the worst things you can do in sports. It's one thing to cheat by upping your own advantage, performance-enhancing drugs, that sort of thing. But by trying to ruin someone else's chances certainly gets the ire of the rest of the sporting community. Chris, you've got a lot more on this story.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, I do, Rachel, thank you very much. We have Simon Cho joining us to make the case for himself, admit what he did, tell us the story.

Simon, what is it like sitting here, hearing the story about yourself, hearing the allegations. You've admitted them, but what does it mean to you?

SIMON CHO, U.S. OLYMPIC SHORT TRACK MEDALIST: Well, you know, I certainly didn't expect to be on CNN for something like this. You know, picturing back, you know, four years ago when I was at the last games, you know, if somebody told me, hey, you're going to be on CNN, I didn't quite picture it to be like this. So, you know -

CUOMO: You worked hard. You're an Olympic athlete. You're a medalist. Why did you do this?

CHO: So, this event took place in 2011, start my coach, Jae Su Chun, and he was my coach and a fellow Korean. Started when he severed ties with the Canadian team when he used to work for them. He came over to the U.S. to coach our team. And there was a particular event where we were eliminated by the Canadian team.

At that point, he took it a little to heart and took it really personally and that's when he took to encouraging his team to be obnoxious and rude. And, you know, as for the ice you report, you know, it says he encouraged skaters to be obnoxious, sit on their massage tables, spill soup on the Canadian skaters. And he went as far as to -- ordered me to tamper with rival skates.

CUOMO: What does that mean, ordered you to tamper? You, you know, you're in the United States. You're a free man. You're a man. You control your own actions. What do you mean he forced you?

CHO: Well, you know, in the sport of - you know, in Olympic sports, we, you know, I wouldn't want to say we play by a different set of rules, but, you know, in our line of work, there's so many factors that come into play where it's a make or break situation. And when you have an authority figure like a coach that has ultimate control over, you know, making or breaking your dreams, sometimes it steers you to do some things that you don't necessarily believe in.

But, you know, I was approached by my coach. Told him no after he ordered me to do this. And, ultimately, he gave me a vendetta. He's like, are you going to be a man about this? Do you want a leader -- be a leader for this team or what? You need to pay your dues. And, you know --

CUOMO: If I were to ask you about this situation in a teaching environment, what would you tell the athlete to do when a coach comes to them and says, do this, cheat, because I'm telling you to. What would you tell someone to do?

CHO: Obviously, I would discourage that. But, you know, cheating is a strong word, especially in this case, because cheating would suggest that I gained some kind of competitive advantage over my competitors at that particular competition. But, you know, that wasn't the case. It was strictly one man's vendetta against a group of skaters. CUOMO: If you bend the skate of somebody, I don't understand anything about skating, but if you bend the skate, obviously you're putting them at a disadvantage. That's why you did it, right?

CHO: Right.

CUOMO: So how did you not gain an advantage if you did something to disadvantage the other person?

CHO: Well, at that point - well, at that point, our U.S. team had already been eliminated. Like I said earlier, Jae Su, he had just taken things a little bit personally and he went and instructed our own U.S. team to do obnoxious things, ridiculous things.

CUOMO: So you are rationalizing this by saying, it didn't help me because I was already out, but you did hurt the Canadian skater.

CHO: I did. You know, it definitely wasn't sportsmanlike of me. And, you know, I do regret my actions. And this is something I have to live with for the rest of my life. But, you know, I'm not the same naive 19 year old when I went ahead and did the tampering. So, you know, I'm here today. Hopefully, you know, any fan or young boy looking up to me can, you know, learn from this experience. And if they are able to do that, then, you know, I've made the best of this situation, even though, you know, I do regret my actions.

CUOMO: Well, that's what I'm giving you the opportunity to do, that's why I'm pressing you, I want your message to be clear.

CHO: Uh-huh.

CUOMO: Either you're going to own this, or you're not, right?

CHO: Uh-huh.

CUOMO: If you're going to own it, then you did the wrong thing. It's not about your coach. It's not about not being in contention. It's about what you did and that it was wrong. Is that your message?

CHO: That is my message. And, you know, at some point, I do have to take responsibility for my actions. You know, I am at fault here. Do I consider myself a tool for one man's, you know, abusive, you know, coaching behavior? Yes. But, you know, I was 19. That doesn't deter from the fact that I need to own up to my actions and I hope that's something that everybody can take away from this experience.

CUOMO: The coach puts out a statement. He says he denies any wrongdoing. He says the Canadians were just as unsportsmanlike. By the way, would that make it OK, even (INAUDIBLE)?

CHO: That would not make it OK.


CHO: You know, Jae Su's denied a lot of allegations among physical, verbal, emotional abuse. So it is what it is. You know, it's really up for the fans of, you know, sports to decide for themselves.

CUOMO: So you say to me you're going to spend these two years when you're banned going to school, working on yourself, and I hope telling kids about your story and teaching them about sportsmanship?

CHO: Absolutely. I definitely want to advocate, you know, sports ethics and behavior. You know, sometimes when you're lost and, you know, you're chasing your dream, you want to be the next Michael Jordan or the next Michael Phelps of your sports. Sometimes you get tunnel vision and you lose sight of things. And, you know, hopefully, you know, young athletes in this generation are able to take away from my experience.

CUOMO: Well, we're hearing about athletes making mistakes all the time. It's good to have one at least coming forward, owning it, sending the right message out to people. I wish you good luck going forward. Hopefully, the next time I talk to you, it's for good reason.

CHO: Yes, thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Thanks for being with us.

Kate, over to you.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much, Chris.

Now to this week's "Impact Your World." Race car driver Brad Kezelowski is making a difference off the track, helping improve the lives of veterans with a new program that's moving full speed ahead.


BRAD KEZELOWSKI, NASCAR DRIVER: Hi, I'm Nascar driver Brad Keselowski and I believe that we can make an impact on the lives of our veterans.

The Checkered Flag Foundation was created to help out those who make sacrifices for us as Americans.

You will be going very, very fast.

The key program is the Race for Recovery. It's a chance for several servicemen, servicewomen who have gone through traumatic events to come to the racetrack and experience a race weekend. And then on the third day we come back and we take them for rides in the race cars at full speed.

My goal with, you know, our veterans, that when they get done with the experience, leave the program and feel like they can stand a little straighter, walk a little prouder, and help them to reintegrate into society here back stateside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It freakin rocks (ph).


KEZELOWSKI: I think they need somebody to, you know, put an arm around their shoulder and show them the way.

Join the movement. Impact your world,


BOLDUAN: Love those pieces. Impact Your World.

CUOMO: I think that was a great message there.

All right, coming up on NEW DAY, we have the exclusive. He is lucky to be alive. We're going to hear from the Florida fisherman who survived by treading water for almost 24 hours. Think about that, out in the open water, no life vest when he fell off his fishing boat. How did he do it? He'll tell us himself.

BOLDUAN: And this guy won't hassle the Hoff. John Berman will introduce you to the real-life Knight Rider who's built his own kit, but can it talk?


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Imagine spending nearly 24 hours lost at sea, no life vest, no flotation device, just treading water to try to stay alive. It happened to one Florida fisherman. He, along with his wife, are going to be joining us exclusively in just a moment for his first television interview. But first, here's a look at his incredible story.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): It's an amazing story of survival that made nationwide headlines. Veteran fisherman Steve Moumouris was found alive in the Gulf of Mexico after treading water for nearly 24 hours without a life vest. The 51 year old set out early for a day of fishing in his 16-foot boat. That afternoon, he texted his wife, Sia (ph), this picture of his catch and said he was headed back to shore a short time later. At 8:00 p.m., and no word from Steve, Sia contacted authorities.

Fear set in when Steve's boat was located nine miles from the boat ramp, but he was nowhere to be found. The following afternoon, a family out scallop fishing heard yelling. It was Moumouris, having now been treading water for almost a day. They pulled him onboard and brought him to shore, exhausted and lucky to be alive.

TODD HOY, RESCUED MISSING FISHERMAN: We got him on board and he was fairly coherent. He gave us a phone number for his wife.

BOLDUAN: Moumouris says he was tossed overboard when his boat hit a rough wave in a storm. Miraculously, he only suffered dehydration and some extreme muscle soreness. He's now not only reunited with his family, but also his boat.


BOLDUAN: Wow, wow, wow. Well, Steve and his wife Sia joining us live from Florida for their first TV interview.

It is so great to see you both. So happy to be able to speak to you this morning.

Steve, first to you, how are you doing? You look fabulous considering the story that we just played. You just got out of the hospital Friday. How you doing?

STEVE MOUMOURIS, RESCUED FISHERMAN: Yes. Feeling a lot better. The soreness is still there. I still have a raspy voice. But, overall, I'm very thankful I'm back with my family and just very thankful to be alive.

BOLDUAN: No kidding. Take me back there. Take us back to that moment. You get thrown overboard. What's going through your mind?

S. MOURMOURIS: Actually, my motor stopped. And I was trying to restart the motor, actually 4.6 miles away from the boat ramp, and I decided -- I still had plenty of time to mess around before the storm actually came in. I had enough (inaudible) and I was going for the life vest, believe it or not. It looked pretty underneath that -- that compartment, but as I reached for it, I think I had it in my hand and just -- I don't want to call it a rogue wave because I didn't see anything like that, the boat actually tipped about 45, 50-degree angle. And just -- I went over like -- like you were flipping a burger on a grill.

And my first instinct was just to go after the boat. Immediately the boat was about ten yards away from me.


BOLDUAN: And so the hours continued to tick by -- the hours tick by and you're still treading water. What's going through your mind and how did you make it through? Because we've been talking about this, treading water for several minutes in a pool is tough enough, let alone in the open ocean and you don't know if you're going to make it through.

S. MOURMOURIS: That's exactly what went through my head. I said that you know actually told myself, you have about a half hour to live. Based on the fact that when you do that in the pool, real -- it's real hard to keep treading water. And then I decided, I said, you got to make a plan and stick with it and don't give up.

I was going to give up when I actually took a breath and it wasn't air anymore, it was going to be water. And I told God he's going to have to pull me down by the heel if he wants to take me, because I'm going to give it all I got. And I have my family, wonderful friends, I kept that in mind, and the will to survive, I guess, is you know life is sweet.

BOLDUAN: So strong, that will is amazing. Sia, what's going through your mind? I saw you just shaking your head when we were running that piece. What's going through your mind as the hours are ticking by and no sign of your husband? ANASTASIA MOURMOURIS, HUSBAND WAS RESCUED: Well, initially -- he's an outdoorsman -- so I had high hopes. The only problem, like I told the authorities, would be if he got hurt coming out of the boat. I knew he wasn't on the boat the moment the phone was not answering. I knew he was smarter than that. He had a little bit of an issue with his boat prior.

I didn't lose hope. I didn't lose hope, but, of course, reality comes in. Twenty-something hours I knew that things were looking pretty grim, but I knew if anyone had it in him, just like everyone that we know knows Steve, it would have been him. I knew he would be fighting if he was in the water.

BOLDUAN: And what a fight that was, nearly 24 hours treading water. Finally, this family scallop fishing sees you, comes over and pulls you on to that boat. What was that moment like, in your mind, Steve?

S. MOURMOURIS: To be honest with you, I don't know if they saw it -- Mr. Todd and Jennifer Hoy, wonderful people and their family. When I grabbed the boat, I actually tapped the boat on the side. I didn't know if I was hallucinating or not, believe it or not. That was my biggest fear, hallucinating and actually passing out, you're past how you're going to drown, you hallucinate, you know, you think you're standing on rocks or something, you're ten feet under breathing.

But they are -- I just told them, and I said my name is Steve Mourmouris they are looking for me. And they told me, we know. And I said you're going to have to grab a piece of me, I can't help you bring me in. And they lifted me up and took very good care of me.

BOLDUAN: And then, of course, Sia, then you get that phone call from your husband. Can you even describe what that was like?

A. MOURMOURIS: No. I can't. It was -- I get it from the lady that was, you know, that had rescued him and she says, "He told us to call you. He's alive." And that's all I needed to hear, because it wasn't the authorities and I knew somebody had found him, so he was coherent enough to give them my phone number and to tell them to call me, so I knew he was good.

Just glory be to God is what I said -- that's all I could utter at that moment. I'm just so thankful for -- grateful for everyone that was involved in the search and for the rescuers and to God, of course, because I truly believe we all witnessed a miracle that day.

BOLDUAN: Miracle that you can tread water that long and that those people came there to get you at just the right moment. Steve, Sia, it's great to meet you. I do want to ask you one thing, Steve is Sia making you dock that boat from now on, are you allowed to go fishing alone ever again?

S. MOURMOURIS: She knows me, I'll go fishing again and even by myself. But I'll wear the life jacket. I just like to take the opportunity if I could just to thank the Coast Guard, the sheriff's department, the Florida Wildlife Commission, all the friends and family that were there for me, my extended family, and all the prayers from all over the nation for me.

BOLDUAN: You got it.

S. MOURMOURIS: I felt them out there.

BOLDUAN: You felt them out there.

Well it's great to be able to speak with you. Thank you both so much for joining me this morning. Steve, wear the life jacket. We'll talk to you soon.

S. MOURMOURIS: Yes I will.


S. MOURMOURIS: Thank you.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Solution is easy, new boat. That's what that man needs and fish again.

It's time for "The Good Stuff". I remember my pop telling me that integrity is all about what you do when no one is looking. It's been haunting me my whole life. But that's what we see in today's edition.

Witness, the manager of Buddy's Small Lots of Wayne, New Jersey recently received a call no retailer wants to hear. Listen.


MARCI LEDERMAN, BUDDY'S SMALL LOTS: We got a phone call from the police department saying that there had been a break-in at the store.


CUOMO: But when they checked out Buddy's, there was nothing missing, but get this, there was something added, money on the counter. So they watched the security video. It reveals these shoppers. It turns out the mall Buddy's is in closes at 7:00, but Buddy's closes at 6:00. But another but -- all the lights were still on. And it turns out the lock on the door wasn't working so these guys thought Buddy's was open. They called for a cashier, and of course there was none so they did some quick math and left the right amount of money on the counter before taking their items.

Buddy's is overwhelmed by the customers' honesty, especially when with a broken lock, imagine what could have happened.


LEDERMAN: Buddy's really wants to thank them, so we'd love for them to come forward and tell us who they are so that we can give them some gift certificates and hopefully just say thank you in person.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Every opportunity to do the wrong thing and they did the right thing. Buddy's has since fixed its locks, but there's nothing to fix with these guys, they did the right thing. They showed that they have the good stuff.

BOLDUAN: That is really good stuff. I love that.

CUOMO: Right?

BOLDUAN: Keep bringing it.

CUOMO: Right keep bringing it so we can give you the good news. We love to do it.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely -- exactly.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, John Berman takes us for a ride back to the 80s everyone to a Trans Am that talks. How Kitt factors into the award of the day award.


CUOMO: Time for the award of the day, means John Berman, our own super hero coming from Washington, where all great men are.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Is there a cape lurking underneath that blazer.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And always a cape and tights. I'm just saying now. All right. I want to introduce you to someone here. His name is Chris Palmer from Detroit. What did he do? He decided to build a replica of Kitt from "Knight Rider".

I'm talking about a pretty exact replica here. It took about three years. He started with a 1991 Trans Am. He actually had to buy several other Trans Ams to make up the whole thing. Listen to what he said.


CHRIS PALMER: I have completely transformed it into Kitt by changing the fenders, the hood, the Knight Rider season four nose and the season one dash.


BERMAN: Of course, the Season Four nose and the Season One dash. Chris Palmer, you win our award today. It is the "Gosh I hope you're already married" award. Why? Because I'm not completely sure about this, but I'm thinking you come check out my Season Four nose and Season One dash it might not be the most effective pick-up line. I'm just saying. Enjoy your car, pal.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. Wow, John, I didn't even know it was going to take that turn and I'm proud.

All right. Too much time. Not enough time -- too much to talk about.

That's it for us. Let's toss it over to CNN NEWSROOM with Carol Costello is up next.