Toni Minichiello – the coach who led Jessica Ennis-Hill to victory at London 2012 – is handed a LIFE BAN by UK Athletics after ‘engaging in sexually physical behaviour’ and ‘unwanted touching’ over 15-year period
- Toni Minichiello, 56, was found by a panel to have committed a ‘large number of breaches’
- He was suspended in May 2021 and will now not be granted a new licence in ‘perpetuity’
- Minichiello coached London 2012 star Jessica Ennis-Hill to become a world-beater from the age of 13
- Minichiello had recently allowed his licence to expire, meaning UK Athletics have no power to sanction or suspend him
The coach who led Jessica Ennis-Hill to London 2012 glory, Toni Minichiello, has been banned for life after it was ruled he ‘engaged in sexually physical behaviour’ including ‘unwanted touching’ with athletes.
On the back of a lengthy investigation into complaints from multiple female athletes, Minichiello, 56, was found by a panel to have committed a ‘large number of breaches’ of his coaching licence over a 15-year period.
He was suspended in May 2021 and on Tuesday it was announced by UK Athletics that Minichiello will not be granted a new licence in ‘perpetuity’.
In listing the startling findings against Minichiello, who coached Ennis-Hill to become a world-beater from the age of 13, UKA wrote that he:
- ‘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.’
Toni Minichiello, has been banned for life after it was ruled he ‘engaged in sexually physical behaviour’
The 56-year-old (left) led Jessica Ennis-Hill (right) to glory at the London 2012 Olympic Games
Minichiello, the winner of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Coach Award in 2012, had recently allowed his licence to expire, meaning UKA have no power to sanction or suspend him.
However, in what is effectively a lifetime ban, they have said in a statement they will ‘not entertain any future application’ by him. UKA did not include any comment from Minichiello in their release.
UKA have disclosed anonymised details of a number of the proven charges, which included ‘mimicking sexual activity (‘Dry Humping’) – each of A2, A3, and A9 – from behind; Touching A3’s breasts; Commenting on and touching A1’s breasts’.
They also say he repeatedly mimicked oral sex, while on one occasion he was allegedly heard ‘in the presence and hearing of other athletes commenting to A5 that if she did not continue training, she could ‘suck my ****’.’
Ennis-Hill was not one of the multiple female athletes who made complaints against him in the lengthy investigation
He was found to have ‘frequently’ referred to his penis to athletes as his ‘spicy Italian sausage’, while under the banner of ‘inappropriate and sometimes aggressive behaviour’ Minichiello is said to have instructed ‘A2 to sit in a corner with a cone on her head as a Dunce’s cap’.
On the charge of intrusive enquiries about athletes’ private lives, the statement points to: ‘Asking A3 if she had ever had sex while doing weights, and ”Does your boyfriend ever come and stick one in you?”
Minichiello has long been an outspoken critic of UKA, with whom he has clashed multiple times in his role as one of the most successful coaches in the country, and then as an influential figure on their members’ council.
The investigation into complaints against him came amid a safeguarding drive by the former UKA CEO Joanna Coates.
Minichiello coached Ennis-Hill to become a world-beater from the age of 13
The UKA statement added: ‘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.
‘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 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.
The investigation into complaints against him came amid a safeguarding drive by the former UKA CEO Joanna Coates
‘Should Mr Minichiello wish to apply for a Coach Licence in the future, the matter will be ultimately be subject to an appeal before the relevant body under UKA Rules.
‘UKA will share the outcome of this adjudication and decision relating to any future license application with both UK Sport and the AIU (Athletics Integrity Unit) for their awareness.
‘UKA wishes to recognise those who came forward to give evidence in this case. We thank them and strongly encourage anyone with a concern to come forward.’