Touretski Update: Coach Proclaims His Innocence, Will Appear in Court on Thursday

By Phillip Whitten

CANBERRA, April 11. Yesterday, in a global exclusive, SWIMINFO reported that world-renowned swim coach Gennadi Touretski, of the Australian Institute of Sport, would be charged with illegal possession of a small quantity of anabolic steroids and would be suspended, with pay, from his duties as coach at the AIS in Canberra and from the Australian staff at the World Championships in Japan this summer, pending the outcome of his trial. That announcement was made several hours later.

Touretski is scheduled to appear before the ACT Magistrates Court at 2pm on Thursday on charges of possession of anabolic steroids. A police spokesman said the offense violated Section 37(1) of the Poisons and Drugs Act 1978.

Today, Touretski denied the allegation against him. His lawyer, Jason Parkinson, said his client would not make a statement to police until full details of the charge were made available.

The steroid discovered by police in Touretski’s home has been identified as Stanozolol, according to Australian Sports Minister, Jackie Kelly, in an interview with ABC television. This is the same drug detected in runner Ben Johnson in 1988, and it is very easy to detect.

The Australian Sports Drug Agency would not confirm the exact substance involved in the Touretski allegations, saying the details were a matter for the police investigation.

Australian Swimming’s Executive Director, Vena Murray, said today: "Australian Swimming’s anti-doping policy is second to none in world sport and we abhor any person or persons involved in drug use. [We] will also not hesitate to deal in the strongest possible way with any individual who is involved in doping and Australian Swimming had no alternative but to suspend Mr. Touretski pending the on-going investigations.

"We understand there is no link between the allegations against Mr Touretski and any Australian swimmers and there is absolutely no evidence to prove any association between the alleged find and the AIS swim squad itself.

"The fact that our swimmers are tested so regularly, gives Australian Swimming every confidence in our our national anti-doping program.

Famed Australian coach, Forbes Carlile, however, went straight to the heart of the matter: "This is devastating news. No matter what the result of the investigation, the slur on Australian swimming will remain for a long time."

Touretski, 51, who moved to Australia from Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, is the coach of four-time Olympic gold medalist, Alex Popov, and double Olympic gold medalist, Michael Klim, among others.

We have not yet been able to get a comment from Alex Popov. However, Klim's manager, Rob Woodhouse, said that Klim may make a comment tomorrow about Touretski's situation. "He needs to find out a bit more information himself," Woodhouse said.

"I can't comment on how he feels. I don't know. "(But) he's pretty relaxed. He's playing with his fish tank at the moment. "Everything is sort of going on as normal." Nevertheless, Woodhouse described the situation as "no doubt pretty disturbing".

"Obviously as things come to light, then I'm sure he'll be willing to make a comment," he said. "Michael will possibly be saying something tomorrow."

Meanwhile, the Australian Sports Drug Agency (ASDA) announced that most swimmers at the Australian Institute of Sport will be routinely drug tested by the weekend. However, ASDA chief executive John Mendoza emphasized that there was absolutely no evidence to prove any association between the alleged steroids find at the Touretski home and the AIS swim squad.

According to an AAP story, Mr. Mendoza declined to directly answer whether the swimmers on Touretski's team would be immediately drug tested. "Mr Touretski's swimmers are part of the squad," he said simply.

There will be a press conference in Canberra later today. SWIMINFO will be there to report what takes place and will remain on top of this story.

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