Lance Armstrong is expected to admit to Oprah Winfrey that he used banned substances while racking up seven consecutive Tour de France titles. The interview, scheduled to take place Monday at Armstrong’s Austin home and air Jan. 17 on OWN, is one that 60 Minutes went after aggressively.
“We wanted the Lance Armstrong interview badly. He chose to go with Oprah,” 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager told reporters gathered at the semiannual Television Critics Association press tour Saturday.
60 Minutes has done multiple pieces critical of Armstrong including correspondent Scott Pelley’s 2011 interview with teammate Tyler Hamilton that helped blow the lid off the investigation into doping by Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Service team. And the premiere of the newsmagazine’s Showtime edition 60 Minutes Sports on Jan. 9 included a piece about Armstrong’s attempt in 2004 to donate $250,000 to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, the same body that found Armstrong had used banned substances causing him to be stripped of his Tour de France titles. 60 Minutes producers have made numerous attempts to interview the cyclist going back to a story Bill Owens, 60 Minutes executive editor (and co-executive producer of 60 Minutes Sports), produced more than 10 years ago.
Correspondent Lara Logan quipped, “[Armstrong] is a really huge fan of 60 Minutes.”
60 Minutes Sports will air once a month on Showtime, and Fager noted that it will feature the same rigorous original reporting as the flagship broadcast. “Everything that we do is investigative to some degree. We’ll try to have something with a little edge or currency,” he said.
“This is not 60 Minutes-light,” added Logan, who is working on profiles of ESPN’s Chris Berman and skier Lindsey Vonn.
The next edition of 60 Minutes Sports will feature correspondent Armen Keteyian’s behind-the-scenes piece about the Super Bowl. The game will be broadcast Feb. 3 on CBS, while Keteyian’s story will air Feb. 6, requiring a fast turnaround. He’s already made numerous trips to New Orleans and will be inside the control room truck on game day. “We’re going to take you places you haven’t seen before,” said Keteyian. (Later, Keteyian confirmed he no longer will appear on HBO’s Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel.)
Fager said that despite being on a premium network, 60 Minutes Sports will adhere to the same standards as the broadcast network. That means some of the salty language used by athletes is likely to get bleeped.
Email: Marisa.Guthrie@thr.com; Twitter: @MarisaGuthrie