Tony Minichiello, former coach of Olympic gold medalist Jessica Ennis-Hill, banned for life by UK Athletics for sexual misconduct


The 56-year-old was suspended by the country’s sport’s governing body, UK Athletics, in May 2021 ahead of a lengthy investigation into complaints from several female athletes about his alleged behavior over a 15-year period.

Minichiello’s accusers remain anonymous.

According to a statement released by UK Athletics on its website, “he has committed a gross breach of trust with Mr Minichiello, which has had severe consequences for the mental health and psychological well-being of the athletes under his care”.

Minichiello categorically denied the allegations made against him and described the decision taken by UK Athletics as “unfair”.

“I cannot fully express my disappointment with this decision and UK Athletics’ unfair handling of this process,” Minichiello said in a statement to CNN.

“I strongly deny all the allegations made against me. I have been a coach for 30 years and while I have been firm and demanding, I have never misbehaved with any of my athletes, as many of them will attest.”

Minichiello’s statement detailed the reasons he believed the investigation was unfair, saying the committee failed to provide details on how it was conducted late and failed to “properly engage with the available evidence.”

UK Athletics did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on the allegations of misconduct by Minichiello during the investigation process.

Minichiello’s statement noted that “he was not banned from training. The committee does not have the authority to issue such a sanction.”

UK Athletics said in a statement that a panel appointed by the UK Athletics Board had carried out the investigation “to hear complaints made against Mr Minichiello alleging that Minichiello had breached the terms of his UKA coaching licence”.

As reported in the statement, the conclusions of the investigation are as follows:

“The panel determined that Mr. Minichiello;

1. Inappropriate sexual references and gestures to athletes;

2. Failure to respect athletes’ right to private life by intruding (inquiring) and making personal comments about their personal life;

3. Sexually physically involved (behaviour), i.e. inappropriate and unnecessary touching of athletes for whom they have a duty of care;

4. Engaged in inappropriate and sometimes aggressive (behaviour), bullying and emotional abuse.”

The panel found the allegations “proved” and “various other allegations not proven”. The group did not specify what the unproven allegations were.

CNN reached out to Jessica Ennis-Hill’s representatives for comment, but did not immediately hear back.

A statement from UK Athletics said: “These findings are extremely serious. They represent the largest number of breaches of UKA coach licensing rules over a 15-year period.”

Minichiello’s training license expires during his suspension in 2021, so he is “not therefore suspended/sanctioned” by UK Athletics.

As a result, UKA’s ban will be interpreted as a decision to “permanently not consider any future application made by Mr Minichiello for a UKA coach licence”, according to the statement.

It continues: “The granting of a UKA license to a coach is essentially a representation on behalf of the UKA that the coach in question can be trusted with the athletes under his care.

“UKA is firmly of the view that there will never be an appropriate time in the future to make that promise and grant such a licence.”

Any future application by Minichiello to obtain a license “will be subject to an appeal before the relevant body under UKA rules.”

CNN has also reached out to the British Athletics Commission for a statement on UK Athletics’ decision.



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