11 February 2010

Athletes' bizarre remedies

You felt reminded of boxers using a steak to treat their black eyes when a US Olympic team doctor said that skier Lindsey Vonn really chose curd cheese for a shin problem.

You felt reminded of boxers using a steak to treat their black eyes when a US Olympic team doctor said that skier Lindsey Vonn really chose curd cheese for a shin problem.

And according to the doctor, US women's ski team medical chief Bill Sterett, it's not unusual: athletes can be highly irritated by modern medicine and methods of treatment.

"Lindsey and other athletes can be very resistant to even using anti-inflammatories. They also question the radiation of x-rays," said Sterett, an orthopedic surgeon in Vail.

Well-known remedy

The use of the curd cheese was actually no surprise, given that she treated the bruised muscle in Austria for the first days.

There, as in Germany, curd cheese is well known to help against swellings.

Sterett told the news conference that "a lot of athletes use it."

Leeches and cabbage bandages

Leeches have played a role in medicine for centuries and former Bayer Leverkusen football team doctor Dieter Trzolek used them - as well as cabbage bandages - to treat imflammations.

"I tell the players that it takes up to two weeks longer with ce or cremes," Trzolek said.

Steak on the eye

The steak on the boxer's eye had the same effect, but has by now more or less been replaced by ice (or cold metal) which also do the trick.

It was simply the coldness of the meat which eased swellings.

Or, as the website put it: "A vegetarian would have gotten the same results by using iceberg lettuce."

Tea and honey for cold

In Poland, meanwhile, the traditional cold remedy of tea with honey is spiced up with garlic, and former ski-jumping star Adam Malysz swears by it.

Other issues have been a little more dubious than all these granny-style recipes and remedies mentioned so far. Calves blood injections were popular until listed as doping while Chinese coach Ma Junren (in)famously attributed the world records of his female distance runners in the early 1990s to a diet of turtle blood and caterpillar fungus.

If that wasn't enough, German cross-country skier Johann Muehlegg accused the former national team coach of damaging him spiritually and preferred to rely on a flask of holy water and his Portuguese faith healer Justina Agostino, also known as "the grace."
Muehlegg was kicked out of the German team and his career finally ended in rather unholy fashion in 2002 when he was stripped of three Olympic golds he won for Spain - for blood doping.

'Biatheletes a little mentally ill'

Biathlon king Ole Einar Bjoerndalen once said that cross-country skiers and biathletes "may be a little mentally ill" when talking about his obsession with vacuum cleaners.

Fearing nothing more than that an infection could ruin his winning chances, Bjoerndalen always hoovers his hotel room to make sure it is really clean. It fits the picture that his mental trainer is a vacuum cleaner salesman.

"He has this gift of kind of hypnotising me to programme the course of the race into my head," Bjoerndalen told Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily in 2007. - (Sapa/dpa, February 2010)




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