Morning briefing

Times Staff Writer

Reason to jeer when they cheer

Performance-enhancing drugs have been in the news with baseball, football and track and field getting most of the headlines, but author Lisa Torgovnick says the drugs have popped up where least expected: in cheerleading.

Torgovnick has written a book titled “Cheer!” that chronicles three teams on the way to the annual National Cheerleaders Assn. finals. In it, she writes that male cheerleaders bulk up on steroids so they can heft more weight, according to the Wilmington (N.C.) Star-News.

And the substance abuse in cheerleading is not limited to males.

“Flyers, under pressure to stay light -- and maintain the usual unrealistic Barbie standards of beauty -- take a pharmacy of drugs including, occasionally, cocaine,” the Star-News report said. “Except for the cocaine, though, almost all this abuse is perfectly legitimate, since the NCAA rates cheerleading as an activity rather than a sport.”

Trivia time

On this date in 1992, Kristi Yamaguchi became the first American since 1976 to win an Olympic gold medal in women’s figure skating. Who won the silver and bronze that year?


Father knows best

New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte may have acknowledged using HGH in 2002 and 2004, but third baseman Alex Rodriguez said he has respect for his teammate.

“Andy is one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever met,” Rodriguez said. “I have two daughters -- well, I have one and one on the way . . . I would want ‘em to marry Andy Pettitte.”

Never mind that Pettitte is 35 and A-Rod’s older daughter is 3.

“The age difference might be a little awkward, but in today’s day and age anything is possible,” Rodriguez said.

Mad about you

Michelle Wie, making her LPGA Tour debut today in Hawaii, has spent the last six months acclimating to life as a Stanford freshman.

One thing that Wie, an only child, had to get used to is having a roommate. She recalled the first day she met hers.

“She was like, ‘Oh, I’ve heard of you before. I’m so glad you’re not a crazy person,’ ” Wie said. “And I’m like, ‘Thanks, I’m glad you’re not a crazy person too.’ ”

Dancing around the subject

Wie said her course load at Stanford includes Japanese, a writing course, a humanities course and a hip-hop dance class that she called “really interesting,” but wasn’t ready to show off what she has learned.

“Don’t ask me to show you anything,” she said.

We’ll probably have to wait until “Dancing with the Stars, 2020.”

Blowing cigar smoke

Minnesota Twins pitcher Livan Hernandez, a Cuban exile, took a cautious approach after hearing about the resignation of Cuban President Fidel Castro.

“Next week, he’ll say, ‘I’m back,’ ” Hernandez said, shaking his head. He added: “One day they say, ‘Fidel die,’ and everybody celebrating. The next day he comes on TV: ‘Hey, hi!’ That’s why I don’t listen.”

The big sensei

Shaquille O’Neal, who made his debut with the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday against the Lakers, is aware of his role as a cagey veteran.

“Just like your basic karate movie where the young guys come to the old guys with beards who have them do weird stuff to get to the other side,” O’Neal said. “That’s who I am, the old guy with a long beard.”

Trivia answer

Midori Ito of Japan won the silver, and Nancy Kerrigan of the U.S. won the bronze.

And finally

Tiger Woods, who is two for two in tournaments he has played this season, was asked if it was possible to have a perfect season and said yes, he has already had one.

“But it’s been a while,” he said. “When I was 11. I won 36 tournaments that year. I peaked at 11. It was just on the Cal Junior Golf.”