OSTRAVA, Czech Republic (SP) -- The woman running around the track isn't just chasing a maraschino cherry on a string, she's running for glory in Athens.
The controversial training technique, first employed by the old Soviet Bloc countries, has proved itself worthwhile time and time again, with nearly the same results as steroids or firing squads. The strong tether holding the treat is attached to the brain stem of the user, and any attempt to remove the prize in front of the wearer will lead to a near instant, yet painfully agonizing death.
Danita Kerplinkof, a member of the 2004 Czech track and field Olympic squad, trusts the device, named "The Chaseafter", will lead her to gold in the womens 800 meter.
"The device is rather comfortable to wear, much like an underwire bra or a mascot costume, it takes some getting used to, but my times are down." she says.
Her coach, Yuri Blyndkovfst, learned of the technique while he was in a Russian military unit.
"Our unit commander would make us chase these little pictures of naked women. That was if we were good. If we were bad we got pictures of naked Russian women, and when we were really, really bad nothing but a pine tree air freshener"
International Olympic Committee officials have yet to determine whether such tactics are against the ethics set forth by the games governing body.
IOC training supervisor, Finn Helga Hopskintulik, is concerned with the athletes safety when using the device.
"Our main worry is if someone were to go around and just tug on a bunch of athletes wearing these. We would have bodies everywhere. Hell, it would make Munich look like a textbook way to run the games. Besides, I love cherries and if someone did this to me, I'd be pissed"
Kerplinkof, who could easily reach the small fruit with either hand and enjoy it's delicious flavor, is warned not to attempt it by her coach.
"He says that the string is attached to my brain stem. One pull and I fall over dead. I've tapped it a couple of times, and I did feel a tingle back there. I suppose when they did the surgery to implant this they must have done that, too"
Last year two members of the Polish badminton team were killed in a tragic "Tetherball" incident.