Newspaper article International New York Times

Zika Fears Cause Coach to Freeze His Sperm ; American, 44, Takes Action Because He and Wife Want Another Child

Newspaper article International New York Times

Zika Fears Cause Coach to Freeze His Sperm ; American, 44, Takes Action Because He and Wife Want Another Child

Article excerpt

As those headed to Rio come up with plans to battle the mosquito- borne virus, John Speraw, an American volleyball coach, is preserving sperm in case he is infected.

As thousands of athletes headed to the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro worry, to varying degrees, about the Zika virus, at least one American has taken a pre-emptive measure: freezing his sperm.

John Speraw, 44, the coach of the United States men's indoor volleyball team, said he was preserving sperm to use for a planned future pregnancy in case he is infected with the mosquito-borne virus.

"My wife and I would like to have another kid," he said recently at U.S.A. Volleyball's training center. "And I'm no spring chicken. I don't want to get Zika and have to wait an additional year, or whatever it may be, for us to have kids. I'm paying attention to Zika, and I'm concerned about it. It's not going to stop me from going down there, but I'm taking measures right now."

The level of anxiety over Zika among athletes and coaches headed to the Olympics sweeps across the spectrum. The American cyclist Tejay van Garderen, worried about contracting Zika and passing it along to his wife and his unborn daughter, recently removed himself from consideration for an Olympic spot.

In interviews with many other likely Olympians, most said they were not hugely concerned about Zika but planned to take suggested precautions against it -- generally by avoiding mosquito bites. The threat has mostly altered plans of friends and family members who expected to go to Rio to cheer them.

"My brother's wife is pregnant, so if I go, he won't be coming," the American indoor volleyball player Murphy Troy said. "That's unfortunate. That's the biggest impact -- other family and friends, people who may have come before may not come now.

"As far as an athlete perspective, there's not much we can do but be as prepared as we can to be mosquito-free -- bug spray and long sleeves and stay inside. …

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