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[an error occurred while processing this directive] Friday, 14 September, 2001, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
Swimming coach's drugs case dropped
Charges against Touretski have been dropped
Touretski was charged with possessing steroids
Drugs charges against Australian swimming coach Gennadi Touretski were dropped on Friday and he was immediately reinstated by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC).

Russian-born Touretski, coach of Olympic gold medallists Alexander Popov and Michael Klim, had been charged with possessing the performance-enhancing steroid Stanozolol.

Police allegedly discovered 10 steroid tablets in a safe stolen from Touretski's Canberra home on 1 April.

I feel quite happy with this
Gennadi Touretski
Touretski had been charged under the Poisons and Drugs Act, which carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison.

But the prosecution dropped the charges on Friday, claiming there was no longer a realistic possibility of a conviction.

This follows a decision earlier this week by magistrate John Burns, who ruled that Touretski's wife Inna could not be compelled to give prosecution evidence against her husband.

Under Australian law, a spouse can be excused from giving evidence if harm to the relationship is found to outweigh the importance of the testimony.

Mrs Touretski had argued that evidence might wreck their marriage.

Speaking outside the court on Friday, Touretski said: "I feel quite happy with this.

"I have a chance to thank all people who supported me, the sports commission, people at the institute, my friends and family and people I have just met in the street.

"Thank you very much."

Michael Klim
Touretski coached Michael Klim to gold in Sydney
The 51-year-old had been suspended on full pay from his job at the Australian Institute of Sport but will now return to work.

ASC chief executive said in a statement: "We were required to act on any allegation regardless of merit.

"The Commission is pleased that this matter has been finalised and Mr Touretski is now able to return to full duty.

"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."

Touretski coached Klim to two relay golds and a butterfly silver at the Olympic Games in Sydney, and the Australian expressed his relief at the decision.

"It's been a disruptive year for us all and hopefully this can now be put to rest," he said.

"There's been a lot of people affected by what happened and this is a great relief for all concerned."

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