CANBERRA, Sept. 14. THE Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Sports Commission, Mark Peters, announced today that Gennadi Touretski, the famed former Russian swim coach who had been coaching at the Australian Institute of Sport, had been reinstated to full duty with immediate effect.
Coach Touretski was suspended on April 10 this year – on full pay – pending the outcome of the hearing of alleged illegal possession of a small quantity of a prohibited substance.
In the ACT Magistrates Court today no evidence was offered and the case was dismissed with costs awarded to Mr. Touretski.
Mr. Peters said the Australian Sports Commission and Australian Institute of Sport welcomed Mr. Touretski back to full duty at the Institute. He referred to his statement of April 10 which emphasized the decision to suspend Mr. Touretski had not signalled any judgment or reflection on Mr. Touretski.
"We were required to act on any allegation regardless of merit", he said. "The Commission is pleased that this matter has been finalised and that Mr. Touretski is now able to return to full duty.
"As I said in my statement in April, Mr. Touretski has consistently displayed strong opposition to drugs in sport and supported the anti-doping policies of the AIS, the Australian Sports Drug Agency and the Australian Government.
Mr. Peters said Mr. Touretski and his family had been through a difficult ordeal and would appreciate some privacy to get on with their lives.
"Gennadi naturally regards today's decision as a vindication of his position and affirmation of his statement of innocence made from the outset of this matter. "He looks forward to getting on with his life and work for which he has been internationally acclaimed, Mr. Peters said.
Arrangements for coaching duties will be completed in time for the resumption of the swimming program, which is currently on a break until October.
Touretski still faces an internal investigation by Australian swimming authorities. Swimming Australia executive director Vena Murray said: "It is part of (our) policy that an internal investigation has to be conducted. "The results of our investigations should be completed and tabled at the board meeting scheduled for Nov 16 and 17."
Touretski had been charged with possessing anabolic steroids, allegedly found in a safe stolen from his Canberra home in April.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge and had been suspended on full pay from his job at the Australian Institute of Sport pending the outcome of the case.
But the prosecution announced on Friday that it had dropped the charges because there was no reasonable prospect of conviction after the court ruled earlier in the week that Touretski's wife, Inna, could not be compelled to give evidence against her husband.
Prosecutors had wanted her to take the witness box at a committal hearing next month because they believed her evidence was central to their case.
But magistrate John Burns ruled that she could not be compelled to give evidence because the consequences could have a serious effect on their marriage.
Touretski's lawyers later released a statement saying the prosecution's case failed because they had no proof.
"It is abundantly clear that the prosecution did not have enough evidence to initially, validly and justifiably charge Mr Touretski," the statement said.
"Mr Touretski has always maintained his innocence. He would have won this case whether or not Mrs Touretski gave evidence."
Speaking to the media outside the court on Friday, Touretski said he was relieved by the outcome and was looking forward to returning to work.
"I feel quite happy with this…and I have to thank all the people who supported me," he said.
Klim and Popov
Two of Touretski's leading athletes, Michael Klim and Alexandre Popov are at present recovering from surgery and illness respectively.
Klim's ankle was broken prior to the 2001 World Championships and Brisbane Goodwill Games. By the conclusion of the Goodwill Games, still carrying the injuries to his ankle the Australian swimmer had shown that he would continue to be a threat to his rivals.
Popov is following a rehabilitation program to restore his immune system after being struck down with a viral infection which forced him to withdraw from the Fukuoka World Championships. Both will resume training in October.
Klim, who won two relay gold medals at last year's Sydney Olympics, said he was looking forward to the matter being closed. "It's been a disruptive year for us all and hopefully this can now be put to rest," he said in a statement.
"There's been a lot of people affected by what happened and this is a great relief for all concerned."