Alan to play key role in keeping Olympics clean from doping

A DROMORE man will play a key role in preventing the use of banned substances by athletes at this year’s Olympics and Paralympics.

Alan McMurray, who owns Total Hockey in Banbridge, will fly to London on July 10 for two months after being selected to be a Doping Control Officer (DCO).

He will be based at the Riverbank Arena in the Olympic Park, which will host the Hockey and Paralympic Football.

“I was selected to work there because of my knowledge of hockey,” he said.

“This will be the second Olympic Games that I will have attended and I have already been selected to be involved at the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014. It will also be my first Paralympics in London.

“I worked at the Winter Olympic in Vancouver as a Doping Control Officer, which I have been working as now for nearly 20 years, and it has taken me all around the world to various events.”

Alan has been involved in anti-doping testing for 20 years. He started off as an Events Officer through Ulster Hockey when it was organised through the Sports Council. Since then, however, UK Anti Doping have taken over as the main body behind testing but because of Northern Ireland’s unique position Alan has been allowed to carry on as a DCO with the Irish anti-doping bodies as well.

The Games will be just as tough for Alan as it will be for the athletes as he has two months of very long days ahead of him.

“We’ll be staying in University Halls opposite St Pancreas station but I’ll be based at the Riverbank so I will have to be up at 5.30am to get the train in to the venue,” he said.

“My team of staff, which will be made up of people from China, Japan and New Zealand, will be involved in the pre-match testing so when the teams take to the field for training we’ll be there to get our samples.

“The first hockey match on most days starts at 8.30am and the last game finishes at 10.45pm so by the time we get finished it will be almost 1.30am. We’ll be working split shifts, though, so it won’t be as gruelling as it sounds!”

Away from his work Alan plans to take in a few other events at the Games. “I’ve got tickets for the boxing so I’m hoping to be cheering on the Northern Irish boys in that. I’ve also got tickets for some of the athletics events and for one of the womens’ football semi-finals at Wembley.

“It’s nice to be involved in what is essentially a ‘home’ Games - a once in a lifetime experience.”