British athletics coach Minichiello gets life ban for sexual misconduct

By: AFP
Published: 08:42 PM, 9 Aug, 2022
British athletics coach Minichiello gets life ban for sexual misconduct
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Toni Minichiello, one of Britain's leading track and field coaches, has been given a life ban after an investigation found he had engaged in "sexually physical behaviour" with athletes.

But Minichiello, who coached Jessica Ennis-Hill to heptathlon gold at the 2012 London Olympics, responded to Tuesday's announcement from UK Athletics (UKA) by saying he had been subjected to an "unfair" process, adding in a statement: "I strongly deny all the charges against me."

Minichiello was also deemed to have made inappropriate sexual references and gestures to athletes and engaged in "inappropriate and sometimes aggressive behaviour, bullying and emotional abuse".

None of the female athletes allegedly abused by Minichiello has been named in a report published by UK Athletics on Tuesday.

Both the Guardian and Daily Telegraph newspapers said they understood Ennis-Hill was not one of the athletes involved.

UK Athletics said the findings, which amount to multiple breaches of its coach licence terms over a 15-year period, "constitute gross breaches of trust" and are of the "utmost seriousness".

'Demanding not inappropriate'

But the 56-year-old Minchiello insisted: "I have been a coach for over 30 years and while I have been robust and demanding, I have not behaved inappropriately towards any of my athletes as very many of them would confirm."

Minichiello's coaching licence expired during the disciplinary process, which means he cannot be suspended or subject to a sanction by UK Athletics.

However, the national governing body has said it will not consider any future application made by Minichiello for a coach licence.

"UKA has considered the matter and decided that these findings are of the utmost seriousness," said a statement.

"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.

"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," with the statement adding any future application by Minichiello would be refused "in perpetuity."

The coach, however, said a tribunal had "failed to engage" with the available evidence, with Minichiello saying one of the most serious allegations against him had taken place when he was in a different country to his accuser.

"It is very important UK Athletics respond quickly and seriously to allegations of misconduct, especially when those allegations are made by young people," said Minichiello.

"However, those investigations and tribunals need to be conducted carefully, with due process and fairly.

"I do not believe I have been treated fairly in this instance."

Ennis-Hill has yet to make a public comment about her former coach's ban.

Categories : Sports
AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.