Anti-doping chief Gripper leaves UCI

Return to Australia follows tragedy

Anne Gripper, the head of the International Cycling Union's (UCI) Anti-Doping Department, will step down from her role on Friday. Francesco Rossi will take over and leave the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Gripper has served at the UCI since 2006 and has overseen the creation of the Biological Passport. Her return home to Australia follows the death of her partner last year. She hopes to remain close to the sport.

"I decided I want to be back in Australia with family and friends. It's purely personal reasons," Gripper told Cyclingnews. "I need to do something a bit gentler on my soul for the time being.

"I'm going to do something completely different. My partner left a moderately sized estate and what she wanted was for it to be used as a foundation to support projects in sport, education and medical issues, and focus on Africa to start.

"She was raising funds for Tanzania when she died so I'll continue to support that and some other projects as well. I've got a lot of learning to do and I don't have a strong financial background, but I'll make sure it's set up in the best practical way."

She added: "I'll keep connections within Australian sport. That's my real passion and I'd love to stay connected to cycling and to the World Anti-Doping Agency."

Gripper had overseen the creation and first cases of the biological passport, a programme that has taken two years to get off the ground. "In some ways I'm disappointed that I won't be able to see the journey through," she said. "I think we've done the hard work and that it will become easier now.

"We've begun the difficult part of changing the culture of the sport as well as doing more testing. A lot of the teams understand they have to play a major part in encouraging their riders that they can do well without doping and that's the real difference for me in the last year. For me that's the best message to give young riders – that you can ride and win without doping."

However, Gripper acknowledged that the war on doping isn't over and that there were times when she thought the passport could collapse. "There are some teams that are further down the track than others but slowly we'll bring them on board," she said.

"You can have the best and most sophisticated testing programme but that's not nearly as effective as the riders having the environment in which they can take all the good things that are available.

"But in 2008 when negotiations between the UCI, ASO and the teams virtually collapsed and the teams signed an agreement with the ASO that brought into question the teams' continued participation in the biological passport, I thought that it might be the end."

Gripper has worked in sport for 15 years. She spent six years at the Australian Sports Commission, then another six years at the Australian Anti-Doping Agency (ASDA), where she held the function of general manager of operations.

In 2006, she completed a masters in sports administration at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and started to work for the UCI in October that year. Gripper was a member of the Australian World Championships triathlon team in 1998.

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