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Toni Minichiello given lifetime coaching ban for sexually inappropriate conduct

Toni Minichiello given lifetime coaching ban for sexually inappropriate conduct
© Reuters
UK Athletics announces that coach Toni Minichiello, who worked with Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill, has been given a lifetime ban for sexually inappropriate conduct.

Leading British athletics coach Toni Minichiello has been handed a lifetime ban from the sport after he was found to have engaged in sexually inappropriate behaviour with athletes, as well as bullying and emotional abuse.

The 56-year-old coached heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill to Olympic gold at the London Games and was awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Coach Award in 2012.

A plethora of athletes and coaches soon came forward detailing various allegations of wrongdoing against Minichiello, who vehemently denied the claims made against him.

Minichiello was initially suspended in May 2021 pending an investigation but continued his role as interim chair for the British Basketball Federation until earlier this year.

UK Athletics have now released the graphic findings of the investigation from the Independent Case Management Group, and Minichiello was found to have committed "gross breaches of trust" over a 15-year period.

A statement read: "The Panel appointed by the Board of UKA to hear complaints made against Mr Minichiello alleging that he breached the Terms of his UKA Coach Licence has now reached its conclusion.

"The Panel decided that Mr Minichiello; Made inappropriate sexual references and gestures to athletes; Failed to respect the athletes right to a private life by making intrusive enquiries and personal comments about their personal lives; Engaged in sexually physical behaviour, namely inappropriate and unwanted touching of athletes to whom he owed a duty of care; Engaged in inappropriate and sometimes aggressive behaviour, bullying and emotional abuse.

"UKA has considered the matter and decided that these findings are of the utmost seriousness. They amount to a large number of breaches of the UKA Coach Licence Terms over a 15-year period.

"They constitute gross breaches of trust by Mr Minichiello which have had severe consequences for the mental health and mental wellbeing of the athletes under his charge."

A summary of the charges details how Minichiello would make inappropriate comments of a sexual nature towards athletes about their private relationships and boyfriends, as well as touching athletes' breasts without their consent.

Minichiello also forced an athlete to wear a cone as a dunce's cap and sit in a corner, and UK Athletics "firmly" believes that the Olympic coach - who could not be sanctioned as his licence expired during his suspension - will never work with athletes again.

"It is noted that during the process of these disciplinary matters, Mr Minichiello's coaching licence expired and therefore cannot be suspended/subject to a sanction. Therefore, UKA has decided that it will not entertain any future application made by Mr Minichiello for a UKA Coach Licence in perpetuity," the statement added.

"The issuance of a UKA licence to a coach is essentially a representation on behalf of UKA that the coach in question can be trusted with the athletes under his charge. UKA is firmly of the view that there will never be a time in the future at which it would be appropriate to grant that assurance and issue such a licence.

"Should Mr Minichiello wish to apply for a Coach Licence in the future, the matter will ultimately be subject to an appeal before the relevant body under UKA Rules."

The summary added that various other charges against the 56-year-old were not proven.

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Jessica Ennis-Hill of Great Britain looks on after finishing 5th in the Womens 100m Hurdles during day one of the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games at The Stadium - Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on July 24, 2015
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