Woo in sport comes in many forms. From the array of supplements taken by weightlifters to the horse placenta treatment tried by Robin van Persie.
Van Persie said of the doctor and her unorthodox treatment:
She is vague about her methods but I know she massages you using fluid from a placenta. I am going to try. It cannot hurt and, if it helps, it helps.
And did it help? Wikipedia records that on 14 November, van Persie “injured his ankle in an international friendly and was initially expected to be out for six weeks, but further tests showed that he would be out for five months. Van Persie made his return on April 14, 2010, in a 2–1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur.”
Frank Lampard, too, went to see the placenta healer but it seems his interest in the unorthodox healer didn’t last long: after an hour with Kovacevic he decided her approach was not for him and decided to return to England immediately.
At the time of van Persie’s decision to have horse placenta rubbed on his ankle, the Guardian reported on Mr Wenger’s views:
The Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, admitted to being sceptical when it comes to alternative medicine, though he recognised the psychological benefits such a treatment may have on an injured player. The Frenchman, who had not previously been aware of Dr Kovacevic, expects his Dutch striker back in the country tomorrow to continue more conventional treatment at London Colney.
“I asked my medical people if there was any danger to the treatment and, when they said there wasn’t, I was happy to let him go,” said Wenger. “Van Persie wanted to go. It’s sometimes psychological as well, for the players to feel that they can be helped. It can be a problem of confidence. But since I’ve been in sport a muscle problem takes 21 days [to heal], a damaged ligament is four weeks, and I’ve never seen it any shorter. You can only play with injections and there’s always a recurrence of the muscle injury.”