Toni Minichiello, the prominent coach who guided Jessica Ennis-Hill to Olympic glory, has been banned for life over years of “sexually physical conduct” with athletes.
A damning investigation into the award-winning coach, who also worked as a BBC pundit, also found a catalog of allegations of emotional abuse and bullying to be “proven”.
The 11 allegations – which also included touching an athlete’s breasts – were prompted by complaints from a number of elite female athletes. The Telegraph understands that Ennis-Hill is not one of the athletes involved.
Minichiello also told an athlete she could “suck my ****” if she didn’t keep training and “often” referred to his penis as “spicy Italian sausage”.
“Gross breaches of trust”
Minichiello, the panel found, was considered to have engaged in “inappropriate and sometimes aggressive behaviour, bullying and emotional abuse”.
UK Athletics said the findings, which amount to a large number of breaches of coaching license conditions over a 15-year period, “constitute gross breaches of trust” and are of the “greatest seriousness”.
Since Minichiello’s coaching license expired during the disciplinary process, he cannot be suspended or subject to a sanction. However, UK Athletics has decided that it will not receive any future application from Minichiello (56) for a coaching licence.
The panel appointed to consider the evidence has concluded of the disgraced coach:
“Make inappropriate sexual references and gestures to athletes”
“Failed to respect athletes’ right to privacy by making intrusive inquiries and personal comments about their personal lives”
“Engaged in sexual physical conduct, 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”
“UKA has assessed the matter and decided that these findings are of the utmost seriousness,” UK Athletics said. “They constitute a large number of breaches of UKA Coach license conditions over a 15-year period. They constitute gross breaches of trust by Mr Minichiello which have had serious consequences for the mental health and mental wellbeing of the athletes under his charge.”
The governing body “will not entertain any future application by Mr Minichiello for a UKA coaching license in perpetuity”.
An independent case management team found 11 charges proven. They included repeatedly putting two fingers to his mouth and sticking his tongue through his lips to mimic oral sex; Telling an athlete that if she didn’t keep training she could “suck me ****” and often referring to his penis as his “spicy Italian sausage”.
Minichiello also questioned “inappropriate comments about athletes’ relationships and their girlfriends”; asked one athlete if she had ever had sex while doing weights, adding: “does your girlfriend ever come and stick one in you?”; and telling an athlete that she would “never get married”, and “never have children”.
In addition to “dry humping” three athletes from behind, he also allegedly touched one athlete’s breasts, commented on another athlete’s breasts and instructed one athlete to sit in a corner with a cone on his head.
Minichiello, who had been named coach of the year at the BBC’s Sports Personality Awards, had also been suspended from television work.
Minichiello began working with Ennis-Hill when she was 13, guiding her to Olympic and three world heptathlon championships during her illustrious career.
The ban comes weeks after the 10th anniversary of Super Saturday at London 2012. Alberto Salazar, who guided Mo Farah to gold, is also serving a four-year doping ban.