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Mueller-Wohlfahrt, maverick doctor with magic hands, to quit Bayern

AFP/Munich
Filed on June 12, 2020
Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt pictured helping Mats Hummels off the pitch when he played for Bayern Munich in October 2018. - AFP file

The 77-year-old is hailed as a medical genius by his legion of high-profile fans in elite sport and his patients include athletics legends Usain Bolt, Paula Radcliffe and Maurice Greene, outside football

Dr Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt, who remains a maverick in medical circles but whose former patients are a "who's who" of sports stars, is to bring an end to a decades-long link with Bayern Munich, the Bundesliga club announced Friday.

Mueller-Wohlfahrt, an orthopaedic and sports medicine specialist, has been Bayern's club medic for more than 40 years, with a short interruption after a fall-out with then-coach Pep Guardiola.

The 77-year-old is hailed as a medical genius by his legion of high-profile fans in elite sport, but his detractors remain dubious of his unusual techniques.

Mueller-Wohlfahrt built up his reputation by working with Bayern Munich stars, like Franz Beckenbauer, in the 1970s.

Having treated Germany's top footballers for the last few decades, he was also team doctor for the German international side between 1995-2018.

Athletics legends Usain Bolt, Paula Radcliffe and Maurice Greene are some of the big names outside football who overcame career-threatening injuries after being treated in Munich by Mueller-Wohlfahrt.

Bolt was first treated by the German as a 16-year-old and the Jamaican crucially sought help from the man he called a "second father" for a calf injury ahead of the Rio Olympics where he went on to win three gold medals.

"What I find particularly impressive is that he makes the correct diagnosis after the very first examination, without needing scans or x-rays," Germany head coach Joachim Loew has said.

"He does it with his hands, which must have some magic in them, his experience and his intuition."

Mueller-Wohlfahrt has argued his techniques rely more on experience than "magic".

"I 'see' with my fingers, I can tell if the muscle is injured just through the tension in it," he wrote in his autobiography.

"I have diagnosed 35,000 muscle injuries in my life and acquired these abilities through daily exercise, like a pianist or a violinist."

Mueller-Wohlfahrt's methods are not to everyone's taste.

His intensive use of actovegin, an amino acid made from veal blood which he injects into injured tendons, has led to allegations of quackery by senior figures in his field.

None of Mueller-Wohlfahrt's work has been analysed by other doctors, nor has he published anything about his use of actovegin.

It led to Travis Tygart, CEO of the United States' Anti-Doping Agency, branding Mueller-Wohlfahrt's reliance on injections as a "Frankenstein-type experiment".

Mueller-Wohlfahrt admits to being an "empirical doctor", who relies not on medical research, but on the feedback of his patients.

In a statement Friday, the doctor, who will now focus on his patients at his Alter Hof surgery in central Munich, said: "Looking back at my 40 years at FC Bayern, I'm happy and very satisfied.

"The experiences we've made here, the successes we've celebrated together and most importantly the people I've met at this club, have shaped my life permanently. I wish FC Bayern all the best for the future!"


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