Jessica Ennis-Hill ‘shocked’ after ex-coach was banned for life for ‘sexually inappropriate behavior’

Sports figures have privately expressed relief that the widely known ‘sleazeball’ will never work in British athletics again. Minichiello can indeed still coach abroad, but UK Athletics hopes other national governing bodies will turn their backs on him. Minichiello said on Tuesday that he still “firmly” denies “all the charges against me.”

But UK Athletics said the findings, which amount to major breaches of the terms of his coaching license over a period of 15 years, “constitute a gross breach of trust” and are “of the utmost gravity”. Minichiello, the panel concluded, was deemed to have engaged in “inappropriate and at times aggressive behavior, bullying and emotional abuse.” As Minichiello’s coaching license expired during the disciplinary process, he cannot be suspended or face a sanction.

However, UK Athletics have decided they will not accept any future coaching license applications from Minichiello, 56. The 11 charges proven included repeatedly putting two fingers in her mouth and passing her tongue between her lips to mimic oral sex; telling an athlete if she didn’t keep training she could “suck my —” and frequently referring to his penis as her “spicy Italian sausage”.

“Blatant breach of trust”

Minichiello also called for “inappropriate comments about the relationships of athletes and their boyfriends”; asked an athlete if she’d ever had sex while doing weights, adding, “Is your boyfriend coming over yet? » ; and telling an athlete that she would “never get married” and “never have children”. In addition to “roughing it” with three athletes from behind, he also touched women’s breasts, commented on another athlete’s breasts, and asked an athlete to sit in the corner with a donkey cone on her back. the head.

As a result, the panel appointed to assess the evidence concluded that the disgraced coach:

  • Made inappropriate sexual references and gestures to athletes
  • Failed to respect the athletes’ right to privacy by making intrusive requests and personal comments about their personal lives
  • Engage in sexually physical behavior, namely inappropriate and unwanted touching of athletes to whom he had a duty of care
  • Inappropriate and sometimes aggressive behavior, bullying and emotional abuse

The governing body said in response that it ‘will not accept any future applications from Mr Minichiello for a UKA coaching license in perpetuity’.

“UKA has reviewed the matter and decided that these findings are of the utmost seriousness,” UK Athletics said. “They represent a large number of breaches of the terms of the UKA coaching license over a period of 15 years. They constitute gross breaches of trust by Mr Minichiello which have had serious consequences for the mental health and mental well-being of the athletes in his care.”

Minichiello began working with Ennis-Hill at the age of 13, guiding her to Olympic titles and three world heptathlon titles during her illustrious career. The ban comes weeks after the 10th anniversary of Super Saturday in London 2012. Alberto Salazar, who guided Mo Farah to gold, is also serving a four-year doping ban.

Minichiello’s behavior had come to the attention of bosses in the past. “He was always known as a bit of a sleazeball who could make inappropriate or pusillanimous comments, but nothing more,” a source said. He had previously been reprimanded for making an inappropriate comment to a member of the public during a coaching conference.

He also received an official warning in 2017 after a heated argument with a female athlete at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield in December, during which he said: “You are not allowed on this track, f- — off, f- — off, f— off.

However, Minichiello said in a lengthy statement: “I cannot fully express my disappointment at this decision and the unfair handling of this process by UK Athletics. I strongly deny all charges against me.

“I have been a coach for over 30 years and although I have been tough and demanding, I have not behaved inappropriately towards any of my athletes, as many of them would confirm. From the start, I have co-operated with UK Athletics and the independent appointed investigator. Unfortunately the investigation was one-sided. For example, I offered to provide UK Athletics with the names and contact details of 80 witnesses, including my current training group. UK Athletics declined the list of these witnesses.

Campaign group Kyniska Advocacy has welcomed the investigation by UK Athletics. “It is positive to see that this policy is now upheld in this case, and others, where there has been gross abuse of power and negligence towards the safety and welfare of athletes,” a statement read. .

Jessica Ennis-Hill ‘shocked’ after ex-coach was banned for life for ‘sexually inappropriate behavior’

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