LONDON (AP) — The coach who helped British track and field star Jessica Ennis-Hill to Olympic and world titles was effectively banned for life Tuesday for misconduct including “sexually physical behavior” with unidentified athletes over a 15-year period.
Tony Minichiello was found guilty by a tribunal of four charges that amounted to “gross breaches of trust,” the U.K. Athletics governing body said.
Minichiello’s misconduct against athletes included unwanted touching, “inappropriate sexual references and gestures” and “aggressive behavior, bullying and emotional abuse.”
“They constitute gross breaches of trust by Mr. Minichiello which have had severe consequences for the mental health and mental well-being of the athletes under his charge,” U.K. Athletics said.
It thanked and praised athletes who gave evidence against the British coach, without naming them. It was unclear if Ennis-Hill had been a witness.
“I cannot fully express my disappointment with this decision and with U.K. Athletics’ unfair handling of this process,” Minichiello said in a statement. “I have been a coach for over 30 years and while I have been robust and demanding, I have not behaved inappropriately towards any of my athletes as very many of them would confirm.”
Minichiello made his reputation guiding heptathlon star Ennis-Hill to three world titles from 2009 to 2015, and Olympic gold and silver medals.
Ennis-Hill’s gold-medal performance at her home 2012 London Games was completed on the so-called “Super Saturday” at the Olympic Stadium that became part of British sporting lore. She took silver when defending her title at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Though the coach could not be sanctioned by track and field authorities because his license expired during the prosecution, he was effectively expelled by the sport.
“Therefore, UKA has decided that it will not entertain any future application made by Mr. Minichiello for a UKA coach license in perpetuity,” the British track body said.
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