Anti-Doping Crusader Steps Down

athletics director Bob CopelandAccording to an announcement by the University of Waterloo, athletics director Bob Copeland is leaving his post after enduring one of the most turbulent periods in the history of the school.

The anti-doping crusader resigned, effective this fall, to end a term of five years. Bob Copeland will step down from his role on November 1, 2013. After announcing his resignation, Copeland said he is deeply grateful for the opportunity to have led such a dynamic department and passionate group of staff, coaches, and student-athletes who represent the University of Waterloo with great distinction. He further remarked that he is looking forward to taking on new challenges and continuing to make positive contributions in the Canadian sports community and will forever be a Warrior and plan to remain active in my support of the department as an alumnus.

The 48-year-old Woodstock resident and an alumnus and former football player at the University of Waterloo is best known for bringing out the University safe and strong in one of the biggest doping scandals ever in Canadian sport.

WLU's Peter Baxter after learning of his resignation remarked Bob understands how sports can transform people's lives and added that he turned something terrible (the steroid controversy) into something extremely good. Copeland, back in 2010, was tipped off by police when one of the university's football players was arrested and later convicted for possession of a large stash of performance enhancing drugs. The athletic director immediately ordered unprecedented team-wide testing and those tests disclosed nine doping violations among the football Warriors, including the first North American athlete to test positive for human growth hormone. Copeland also demonstrated his support behind the unpopular decision of the senior administration to suspend the football team through the 2011 season.

Texas-based clean sport advocate Don Hooton, said at the time that the "courageous" actions of Copeland shone a light on the persistent problem of doping. Hooton added that ordering the drug tests of his football team was the right thing to do, it was a game-changer. He went on to remark that this episode changed the way performance enhancing drugs are dealt with in Canadian universities and the University of Waterloo put the health and well-being of its kids ahead of everything else. After this, the anti-doping crusader launched a number of clean-sport task forces, a peer education project at both local universities and an anti-doping outreach program for local students in Grades 7 through 12. In addition to these measures, Copeland is also credited with bringing in several high-profile coaches like the men's basketball coach at Waterloo, Greg Francis, and its new head football coach, Joe Paopao.

It is believed by some that Copeland may have run into administrative roadblocks as he tried to chart a bold course for UW athletics and this could be a reason behind his resignation. Copeland however decided not to say what prompted his decision.

Chris Read, UW's associate provost of students, said in a release that we will miss his passion and determination to advance the university and said his decision caught a lot of people by surprise. He added that a lot has happened under Bob's watch in a good way.

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