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Touretski Faces Drug Possession Charges

Apr 10, 2001  - Sandy McLean

Australian swim coach Gennadi Touretski could face up to six months in prison if found guilty in a Canberra court Thursday of illegally possessing the anabolic steroid Stanozolol.

Some 10 tablets of the performance-enhancing drug, easily detected in athletes, was found by Australian police last week in a safe at the bottom of a Canberra lake stolen from Touretski's house two days earlier.

The 51-year-old Russian-born Touretski, coach for Olympic gold medallists Michael Klim and Alexander Popov, was charged on Monday and subsequently suspended from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) on full pay by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) pending the outcome of the charges.

"We are required to act on any allegation regardless of merit," said executive director of the ASC Mark Peters today.

Touretski, who emigrated to Australia in 1993 after being wooed by Australian officials, has reportedly agreed to the suspension in the best interests of his swimmers.

"I am advised by Mr. Touretski that the allegation is denied. Any further comment on his case will only be made by Mr. Touretski's solicitor," Peters said.

"However, it should be noted that Mr. Touretski has advised me that regardless of any implications for him from the case, there should be no reflection on any athlete who has been in his program."

Touretski has also been cut from Australian team competing in the world championship this July in Japan.

If convicted, Touretski could also face a lifetime ban from coaching. His lawyer Jason Parkinson, however, has stated his client has professed his innocence and several former and current swimmers have come to Touretski's aid verbally.

The Australian Sports Drug Agency has announced that drug tests on most AIS swimmers will be completed by the weekend.

"There is no suggestion, and should be none, that anti-doping policies have been compromised or the integrity or conduct of any AIS athletes is in question," Peters said. "As a matter of record, all members of the AIS swim squad have been regularly and recently tested under FINA and ASDA programs."

Also found in the stolen safe were several medals including, an Olympic gold medal from Povov, Klim's Commonwealth gold medal, and an Olympic bronze from Gennady Prigoda of Russia, however, several gold watches are still missing. Two men have been charged with the April 1 (April Fools Day) robbery.

Until the matter is settled, AIS head swim coach Mark Regan will take over Touretski's coaching responsibilities.