Jessica Ennis-Hill’s former coach receives lifetime ban

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UK Athletics ban Toni Minichiello for life from coaching for inappropriate conduct

UK Athletics recently banned Toni Minichiello after it was found he committed “gross breaches of trust”.

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Minichiello has been the subject of several complaints from women in athletics and was recently found to have 11 serious charges by an independent case management group.

Other allegations have been made but have not been proven.

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The independent panel found that the 56-year-old’s actions “had serious consequences for the mental health and well-being of the athletes in his care.”

The British athletics coach had previously been suspended in May 2021 and on Tuesday 9 August 2022 it was announced that he would not be granted a new license in ‘perpetuity’.

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So who is Toni Minichiello and what is he accused of?

Who is Toni Minichiello?

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Born in Sheffield in 1966 to Italian parents, Minichiello is best known for coaching London 2012 Olympic gold medalist Jessica Ennis-Hill.

The couple first met when Ennis-Hill was 13 at Don Valley Athletics Stadium while Ennis-Hill was at summer camp.

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Ennis Hill and Minichiello in 2012

Since their pairing, Ennis-Hill has won numerous athletic medals, winning the heptathlon gold medal in Super Saturday at the London Olympics in 2012.

Minichiello won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Coach award in 2012 following his success with Ennis-Hill. The athletics coach also commented on athletics events for BBC TV.

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Minichiello’s coaching license has expired and therefore cannot be sanctioned, but the UKA has decided it will not apply in the future.

What was Minichiello accused of?

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The findings that led to Minichiello receiving a lifetime ban related to anonymous athletes over a 15-year period.

The independent panel found that Minichiello had mimicked sexual activity with athletes, touched some inappropriately and unwelcomely, while making derogatory comments about their personal lives, including inappropriate comments about some of his athlete’s relationships.

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The Sheffield-born trainer reportedly told one athlete that she would “never marry” and “never have children”.

The panel noted that he had Minichiello:

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  • Made inappropriate sexual references and gestures towards athletes
  • Failed to respect athletes’ right to privacy by making intrusive requests and personal comments about their privacy
  • sexual physical conduct, namely inappropriate and unwanted touching of athletes to whom he owed a duty of care
  • Involved in inappropriate and sometimes aggressive behavior, bullying, and emotional abuse.

The UKA added it “would like to recognize those who have come forward to testify in this case. We thank them and encourage anyone with concerns to come forward.’

UKA has disclosed anonymised details of a number of these proven charges, including: ‘Dry humping’ – by A2, A3 and A9 respectively – from behind; touching A3’s breasts; Commenting and touching A1’s boobs.”

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According to the UKA: “The granting of a UKA license to a coach is essentially an assurance on behalf of the UKA that the coach in question can be trusted with the athletes under him.

“UKA firmly believes that there will never come a time in the future when it would be appropriate to make this assurance and grant a licence.”

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