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June 5th, 2013
11:04 AM ET

Report: 20 Major League Baseball players could be suspended for PED use

Major League Baseball's new cheating scandal reportedly involves two former MVPs - The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers. According to ESPN – they are among 20 major league players facing suspension for alleged involvement with a Miami-area clinic that was dispensing performance-enhancing drugs. The report says the clinic's founder Tony Bosch has agreed to cooperate with baseball's investigators.

CNN's Rachel Nichols weighs in on the very latest.

Filed under: Alex Rodriguez • Baseball • Drugs
January 30th, 2013
11:57 AM ET

Fmr. Sen. George Mitchell raises questions, concerns on new MLB doping allegations

On Tuesday the Miami New Times released a report alleging that Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez purchased human growth hormone and other banned substances from an "anti-aging" clinic in Miami called "Biogenesis," which is now closed. The Times also names several other big league players in the report as well as a man named Anthony Bosch who ran the clinic and reportedly kept sloppy records. CNN has not been able to reach Bosch for comment and the DEA would not comment on whether Bosch or Biogenesis are being investigated.

This morning fmr. Senator George Mitchell, who authored the famous "Mitchell Report" on doping in baseball in 2007 joins “Starting Point.”

Mitchell says the unauthenticated and “dramatic” report raises questions about why someone would keep a journal with the baseball players real names because “it not only implicates the players… it implicates him.” He says the records also name players who have “previously been implicated and after some periods of denial have been admitted they used them.”

Mitchell says sports industries are facing a constant battle and trying to play catch-up with a “large illicit industry [of] people engaged in making these drugs for profit.” He adds that Major League Baseball in particular faces a lot of problems with doping because they’re a private organization and “they don’t have the power of government to compel testimony. So if a person won’t speak to them or won’t give them records voluntarily it takes a lot of sort of hard work to get to building a case and sometimes impossible.”

Filed under: Doping • Drugs • Sports
January 18th, 2013
11:03 AM ET

Can Armstrong repair his image? Cyclist Nicole Cooke, WSJ's Reed Albergotti & agent Drew Rosenhaus weigh in

In a gripping interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired Thursday night, now-disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong came clean about using performance enhancing drugs. Armstrong said that through most of through most his cycling career he had multiple blood transfusions in addition to using a cocktail of drugs, including testosterone, cortisone, human growth hormone and the blood booster EPO. The interview in which Armstrong did not get deep into the details of how exactly he doped and who assisted him is set to continue on Winfrey's OWN cable network on Friday night.

Cyclist and 2008 Olympic Champion Nicole Cooke, legal reporter for the Wall Street Journal Reed Albergotti, and sports agent Drew Rosenhaus weigh in on whether it is possible for him to rehabilitate his image.

In order for cycling to move forward Cooke says Armstrong has to “definitely” come clean. On Armstrong’s interview with the TV legend, Cooke says, “we haven’t even scratched the surface.” She adds, “Oprah isn’t an expert on the ins and outs of cycling and what happens with the anti-doping.” Cooke went on to say that she hopes Armstrong “can be put under oath and actually have to answer those hard questions.”

In order for Armstrong to get back in the public eye and have any credibility Rosenhaus says he has to “come completely clean, be totally remorseful, absolutely apologetic.” He adds that the disgraced cyclist “can not continue to be defiant. He’s got to lay it all out there publicly and privately with these agencies.” Rosenhaus says by doing these things Armstrong “has a chance to start over again and get a fresh start.”

With lawsuits and threats of legal action against Armstrong many wondered if his public statement would help him but Albergotti says, “I don’t think it does at all.” He adds, “I think they’re going to look at this and they’re going to say great you know at least we have the doping admission.” Albergotti adds, “they’re going to continue forward saying well look you admitted to this in a contract with the U.S. Postal Service – you swore that you would not dope and you would not break the rules of cycling. You violated – you’ve got to pay back that money.” Money that he says could make him liable for roughly $100 million.

Filed under: Cheating • Drug culture • Drugs • Sports
January 15th, 2013
10:45 AM ET

WSJ's Reed Albergotti on why Lance Armstrong is admitting to doping

For a decade Lance Armstrong has vehemently denied cheating while winning a record seven Tours de France. On Tuesday, Oprah Winfrey confirmed media reports that say Armstrong acknowledged using performance-enhancing drugs to advance his cycling career during their taped interview. During the interview which was taped Monday night in Armstrong's hometown of Austin, Texas, the former cyclist was described as emotional at times.

After CBS and other media outlets reported that Armstrong admitted using banned substances, Winfrey said her team and Armstrong's camp had agreed not to leak details of the interview but agreed to talk because "it's already been confirmed." The interview will air over two nights, beginning at 9 p.m. ET Thursday on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Winfrey has promised a "no-holds-barred" interview, with no conditions and no payment made to Armstrong.

Sources are telling CNN that Armstrong is also considering paying back some of the money he received from the U.S. Postal Service during the six years it sponsored his team. Reed Albergotti is a legal reporter for the Wall Street Journal. This morning he joins “Starting Point” to discuss his article focusing on Armstrong's decision to talk now.

Filed under: Drugs • Lance Armstrong
January 11th, 2013
10:28 AM ET

Will Lance Armstrong admit to doping during his 90-minute interview with Oprah Winfrey?

Many people are sitting on pins and needles as they wait to see if Lance Armstrong will admit to doping when he sits down to talk to Oprah next week. The former cycling superstar is doing his first interview since he was stripped of seven Tour De France titles and banned from cycling for life. This morning host of CNN's Reliable Sources and Washington Bureau Chief at Newsweek- Daily Beast Howard Kurtz and Daily Beast contributor and Editor in Chief of the Daily Download Lauren Ashburn join “Starting Point” to discuss whether they think Armstrong will use that interview to admit he took performance-enhancing drugs for years.

Ashburn says that while she believes Armstrong will confess to doping during his interview with Oprah, the talk show queen no longer has the cultural clout she used to have. Kurtz agrees but says, “she is still Oprah Winfrey and … [Armstrong] sees that he has to go to the “church of Oprah” and seek absolution.” Ashburn says she is looking forward to seeing Armstrong “sit there for and hour and a half and seeing his body language [and] what his eyes look like.” “This interview could be as important for Oprah Winfrey in trying to get back on the cultural map as it will be for Lance Armstrong,” says Kurtz.

Filed under: Drug culture • Drugs • Entertainment • Sports • TV
December 6th, 2012
10:52 AM ET

NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre weighs in on Washington’s first dance with Mary Jane

Recreational marijuana has only been legal in the state of Washington for a few hours now, as a result of a landmark ballot initiative passed last month on Election Day but residents are already celebrating. Organizations such as the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws also known as “NORML,” have been fighting for the legalization of marijuana since it was founded in 1972. NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre joins “Starting Point” this morning to discuss the new Washington state law and the broader implications of how this law could lead to more states enacting laws to legalize marijuana.

St. Pierre says the midnight public festivities by Washington state residents were, “a celebration to be sure that’s pent up 75 years of marijuana prohibition in America.” The NORML Executive Director went on to predict that just like the 18 states that have passed the use of medical marijuana, other states will follow suit with legalizing it as well. St. Pierre says, “Almost the entire West Coast and all of New England are going to move in this direction. It will take decades to infill the middle of the country.”

On the subject of tourism St. Pierre says he suspects, “a few hundred other thousand people” will be frequent visitors of the centennial state and the nation’s capital. He adds, “Why go to Amsterdam? Why go to Jamaica? I love trout fishing and skiing, so I think I’ll be making more trips this year to Colorado and Washington.”

Filed under: D.C. • Drugs • Law • Marijuana