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Head of Anti-Doping department returns home to Australia
Anne Gripper, the head of the International Cycling Union's (UCI) Anti-Doping Department will step down from her role in the next few days. Francesca Rossi will take over and leave the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), where she was Administrative and Scientific Manager. Gripper has served at the UCI since 2006 and overseen the creation of the Biological Passport.
Gripper plans to return to Australia for personal reasons but hopes to remain close to the sport in the future. In 2009, she lost her partner to a tragic accident and had hoped to move back to Australia before the end of the year. However, with a successor needed, Gripper remained at the UCI, and will officially hand over duties on March 5.
"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 and make sure it's set up in the best practical way."
Gripper hopes to remain close to sport and cycling though: "I'll keep connections within Australian sport, that's my real passion and I'd love to stay connected to cycling and to WADA."
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. I think we've done the hard work and that it will become easier now. We have begun the difficult part of changing the culture of the sport as well as doing more testing. A lot of the teams really 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 totally collapse.
"There are some teams that are further down the track than others but slowly we'll bring them on board. 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 team's continued participation in the biological passport, I thought that it might be the end."
Anne 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 Age Group Triathlon team in 1998.