By Stephen Thomas
SYDNEY, Oct. 25. RUSSIAN-born Australian coach, Gennadi Touretski, underwent heart bypass surgery earlier this week in Sydney to correct a weakness that was diagnosed in tests he had during his enforced five-month break from coaching after a bizarre set of circumstances led to him being charged with possession of a banned substance (the anabolic steroid stanozolol).
Last month the charges were dropped, the case dismissed and costs awarded to the 52-year-old master coach. Touretski, who had pleaded his innocence throughout the ordeal, was immediately reinstated, allowing him back on pool deck at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
Just prior to undergoing surgery, Touretski told swiminfo that his "break" from the pool had been the first in over thirty years. Although the circumstances were unbelievably difficult for him and his family, it gave him the time to search for some good out of such dramatic adversity – allowing him time to take a close look at his health.
"I think it is much better to be proactive with such a thing than to wait for something to happen (a heart attack), so I think this is a good time at the moment with no major competition in the next couple of months," he said of his decision.
At no time in our conversation did he attribute his current medical condition to the stress caused by his suspension and subsequent drawn-out court proceedings, which initially cost him A$40,000 (US$20,000) out of pocket. However, Touretski did suggest that he might consider reviewing his position in relation to the events that occurred after his recovery.
Early reports indicate that Touretski is doing well after the operation. Further updates will be posted as they come to hand.