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USOC on Zika: Athletes decide whether to compete in Brazil

Copacabana Beach

<> on February 5, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Matthew Stockman

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- U.S. Olympic Committee leaders say athletes have to decide for themselves about competing at the Summer Olympics in Brazil, where the outbreak of the Zika virus has made some question the wisdom of traveling there this year.

The USOC recently appointed a health advisory committee to offer advice about the virus, which is mainly free of symptoms but can cause birth defects. But CEO Scott Blackmun said the USOC doesn’t want to be in position of making health policy.

Blackmun and chairman Larry Probst also expressed confidence that sports leaders will do their best to clean up track and field ahead of the games. News about widespread doping in Russia and Kenya has placed both countries under watch, with the possibility they might be ineligible for track in Rio.

MORE: USOC forms infectious disease planel to address Zika concerns