Toni Minichiello: who is Jessica Ennis-Hill’s former athletics coach as he receives lifetime ban?

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

The UK Athletics have recently banned Toni Minichiello after he was found to have committed ‘gross breaches of trust’.

Minichiello had been the subject of multiple complaints from women in athletics and he was recently found to have committed 11 serious charges by an independent case-management group.

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Other charges had been brought up but they have not been proven.

The independent panel found that the 56-year-old’s actions ‘had severe consequences for the mental health and mental wellbeing of the athletes under his charge’.

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

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

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Who is Toni Minichiello?

Born in Sheffield in 1966 to Italian parents, Minichiello is most famous for coaching the London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill.

The pair first met when Ennis-Hill was 13 years-old during the Don Valley athletics stadium while Ennis-Hill was at a summer holiday camp.

Ennis-Hill and Minichiello back in 2012Ennis-Hill and Minichiello back in 2012
Ennis-Hill and Minichiello back in 2012 | Getty Images

Since their pairing, Ennis-Hill went on to win numerous athletic medals and famously won the heptathlon gold medal on Super Saturday at the London Olympics back in 2012.

Minichiello then went on to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Coach Award in 2012 after his success with Ennis-Hill. The athletics coach also commented on athletics events for BBC TV.

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Minichiello’s coaching license expired and therefore cannot be subjected to a sanction but the UKA has decided it will not entertain any future application.

What was Minichiello accused of?

The findings which resulted in Minichiello receiving a lifetime ban were related to anonymous athletes over a 15-year period.

The independant panel found that Minichiello had mimicked sexual activity with athletes, inappropriately and unwantedly touching some while also making derogatory comments about their personal lives which included making inappropriate comments about some of his athlete’s relationships.

To one athlete, the Sheffield-born coach reportedly said that she would “never get married” and “never have kids.”

The panel found he had Minichiello:

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  • 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 physcial 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.

The UKA has also added it ‘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’.

UKA have disclosed anonymised details of a number of these proven charges which have 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.”

According to the UKA: “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 a licence.”

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