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Mozzie repellent cleared

Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

Rest assured Kiwi Olympians, you can keep the Rio mozzies away without risking a failed dope test.

High Performance Sport New Zealand, the New Zealand Olympic Committee and Drug Free Sport New Zealand have collaborated and agreed none of their recommended Deet-based products will trigger World Anti-Doping Agency alarm bells during the August Games.

Preventing mosquito bites is the priority for the New Zealand medical team, given the insects' potential to carry the Zika virus.

The virus can cause birth defects if it infects pregnant women, and evidence suggests it can be sexually transmitted through semen.

Deet - the chemical developed to assist jungle warfare by the US Department of Agriculture in World War II - is a common active ingredient in insect repellents.

"Zika is an issue we have to be clear on," New Zealand team head doctor Bruce Hamilton said. "Our message is that individuals with concerns around pregnancy should consult with their general practitioners in advance. Every individual has a different situation, and you can't cover that in a general guideline.

"However, we can work to prevent mosquito bites, because that's how it [Zika] is transmitted."

Hamilton stressed mosquitoes were also capable of passing on other illnesses, like dengue fever at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games.

"We're making sure we have the best repellent, clothing and advice. We're aiming to have each bed fitted with a mosquito net and we're making sure rooms are set up to prevent mosquitoes getting in."

"Topical creams can be a worry. There are lots of examples where creams produced positive tests so it's something we consider. We've checked it with them [DFSNZ] and they have no concerns about Deet. It's a low-risk part of what we are doing.

"The IOC [International Olympic Committee] will also make mosquito repellent available in the village."

DFSNZ boss Graeme Steel said: "Athletes should be safe, provided they're savvy enough not to buy anything from a snake oil merchant."

Double Olympic champion shot putter Valerie Adams said the issue needed to be put into the wider context of the Games.

"Like any Games I've been to, there's always something going on, like Delhi belly or venues not being completed. You've just got to deal with [it] when you get there.

"There's no point making a decision as an athlete several months out. The organisers still have a long time to turn things around but, [having said that], I'm glad I don't do a water sport."

Hamilton said polluted Rio waterways meant the risk of respiratory tract and gastrointestinal infections would be significantly higher for the likes of sailors.

- Herald on Sunday

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