Media Life: Lance Armstrong a Hall of Famer or Shamer?

By: Gus Thomson/Media Life
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AUBURN CA - While Nike is jumping off the Lance Armstrong bandwagon and the cycling community has made the seven-time Tour de France winner a pariah after a massive doping report, Auburn’s Brad Kearns has a different take on the latest chapter in one of sport’s most-watched dramas. It would be easy enough to make a clear break with an athlete who has fallen hard for a lofty perch. But Kearns – author of “How Lance Does It” under the McGraw-Hill imprint – says that the majority of the blame should lie with cycling officials who let drug use run rampant in the sport. Kearns, a former world-class triathlete, competed against Armstrong before he turned to cycling and saw the magic of a special athlete from an insider’s vantage point. “With him defiant while everyone around him confesses, he ends up looking like a clown,” Kearns said. “But the bigger picture is that the greatest cyclists of this era were riding on the same level playing field.” What will history say? Kearns’ “How Lance Does It” was published in 2006, when Armstrong was at the height of his fame as one of the world’s most highly regarded athletes. Armstrong’s Livestrong foundation was at the forefront in the fight against cancer and he consistently denied any use of drugs or blood-doping. Auburn was a part of the razzle dazzle of Armstrong’s fame when he rode through the city in 2010 as part of the peloton during the Amgen Tour of California. Kearns says that while Armstrong’s lying can’t be excused, his use of performance-enhancing EPO can’t really be considered cheating because all the other racers were boosting their own blood too. Armstrong continues to strongly deny the doping allegations. The last time Media Life checked, the city of Auburn is storing away some investment-quality Armstrong cycling gear. It might be a prudent move to keep it. The sports world has a penchant for forgiving instead of forgetting. “Shoeless Joe” Jackson of baseball’s infamous 1919 Black Sox team helped throw a World Series. Eight years later, Jackson’s game-used bat sold at auction for just less than $600,000. Highway reality enroute October was the target date for a National Geographic Channel reality series on tow-truck drivers along Interstate 80 over the Donner Summit. While filming pretty much wrapped up last spring as the winter receded into spring sunshine, Burbank-based MorningStar has continued to plug away at putting together footage for a 10-part, 10-hour series. MorningStar execs weren’t able to get back to Media Life, but our sources in the towing industry are telling us that a production team was back for some more filming and interviews over the past month and they’re looking at some serious TV time in November. The good folks at the California Highway Patrol and Caltrans will get their 15 minutes as well, from all indications. Last-chance experience Giving credit where credit’s due, the Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge 100th anniversary committee has done a bang-up job in celebrating the centenary of the American River landmark this year. That work to honor the bridge will continue from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday, when vehicles will once again be allowed on the span for a last chance opportunity to have a drive across and a picture taken. Vehicles will enter off Highway 49 in El Dorado County near the North Fork American River Bridge and exit on Highway 49, a half-mile above the river toward Auburn. No advanced registration is required and $10 will get you and your vehicle – vintage or not – a lasting memory. The donation includes a digital picture sent by e-mail. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at Also hear Thomson most Fridays at 6 p.m. on Dave Rosenthal’s drive-time radio show on KAHI 950 AM. He’s also a regular guest on Capital Public Radio’s “Insight,” with Beth Ruyak. And you can catch up with Thomson on Twitter at AJ_Media_Life.