58-year old “honored coach of Russia” Andrei Nikolaevich Zelenyaev has died. Zelnyaev first rose to national team coach of the USSR and CIS team in 1990, and was the coach of the Russian Olympic Team in 1992 and 1996.
In his distinguished career, Zelenyaev trained 18 swimmers who earned the title Masters of Sports of International Class in Russia. His athletes set 123 records of the USSR and Russia, 13 European records, and 1 World Record. In total, he coached 14 athletes to the Olympics, including 1992 800 free relay gold medalist Vladimir Pyshenko, 5-time Olympian and 2-time Olympic medalist Nina Zhivaneskaya (who won bronze on a Unified Team 400 medley and 1992, and individually in the 100 back for Spain in 2000); and Alena Klyuchnikova. Zhivaneskaya broke the World Record in the long course 200 backstroke in 2000, and in 2003 won the World Championship in that same event. Pyshenko is currently the head coach of CATS Aquatic Team in suburban Chicago.
Zelenyaev’s accomplishments were not without controversy. In 1997, 3 of his athletes, Pyshenko, Natalia Meshcheryakova, and Olga Kochetkova, tested positive for the banned substance methandienone at a trinaing camp in Cyprus. All three were banned for 2 years, and Zelenyaev was forbidden from further work with the Russian National Team. He claimed that the doping was accidental and the result of a former teammate of the athletes spiking a cake with the banned substance as retaliation for being removed from the team. That appeal was denied.
Zelenyaev has been battling with his health since 1996, when his pancreas failed and he had 7 operations in 4 months, including 3 weeks spent in a coma on life support.