Thursday, 8 Dec 2022

Jessica Ennis-Hill's ex-coach considers appeal against ban

EXCLUSIVE: Jessica Ennis-Hill’s ex-coach considers appeal against UK Athletics ban as he strenuously denies guilt and brands inquiry ‘unfair’ and ‘one-sided’

  • Toni Minichiello, 56, coached Team GB’s Ennis-Hill to glory at London in 2012
  • He may be planning a legal challenge against the decision, according to friends
  • It comes after the coach’s ex-wife also said the claims against him ‘don’t add up’

Jessica Ennis-Hill’s sex shame former coach is considering an appeal against a lifetime UK Athletics ban on sexual misconduct charges, MailOnline has learned.

Toni Minichiello, photographed strolling in the sunshine near his Sheffield home today, has strenuously denied his guilt and branded the inquiry into his conduct ‘unfair’ and ‘one-sided’.

And the 56-year-old, who coached Team GB’s athletics golden girl Ennis-Hill to glory at London 2012, may be planning a legal challenge against the decision, according to friends.

‘Toni isn’t even sure if an appeal is possible right now, but he’s going through the evidence and the decision before he takes further advice,’ said one.

‘Some of the evidence was so weak and the burden of proof so low,’ added the friend. ‘Toni wasn’t even in the same country on the day he was accused of one of the offences.’

The news comes after the coach’s ex-wife also said the claims against him ‘don’t add up.’

Toni Minichiello, photographed strolling in the sunshine near his Sheffield home today, has strenuously denied his guilt and branded the inquiry into his conduct ‘unfair’ and ‘one-sided’

And the 56-year-old, who coached Team GB’s athletics golden girl Ennis-Hill (pictured right) to glory at London 2012, may be planning a legal challenge against the decision, according to friends

Nicola Minichiello described him as ‘a big personality who ruffles feathers’ – but said she couldn’t disagree with his claims to have been the victim of a ‘witch hunt.’

Former Olympic bobsledder Nicola, 44, was herself coached by him and went on to become his wife, separating 16 years ago.

According to UK Athletics, Minichiello was found guilty of making inappropriate sexual references and gestures to athletes, including mimicking ‘female genitalia and oral sex’, telling an athlete to ‘suck my ****’ and frequently referring to his penis as his ‘spicy Italian sausage’.

He was also said to have failed to respect athletes’ right to a private life by making intrusive enquiries and personal comments about their personal lives, including asking an athlete if she had ‘ever had sex while doing weights’.

He was ‘convicted’ of engaging in sexually physical behaviour, namely inappropriate and unwanted touching of athletes to whom he owed a duty of care, including touching two athletes’ breasts and ‘dry humping’ to mimic sexual activity.

He was also found guilty of inappropriate and sometimes aggressive behaviour, bullying and emotional abuse including one athlete being made to sit with a cone on her head to mimic a dunce’s cap.

Nicola Minichiello (above) described him as ‘a big personality who ruffles feathers’ – but said she couldn’t disagree with his claims to have been the victim of a ‘witch hunt.’


According to UK Athletics, Minichiello was found guilty of making inappropriate sexual references and gestures to athletes (pictured near his Sheffield home today)

Minichiello issued his own statement on Tuesday night denying all sexual misconduct charges and slamming UK Athletics.

He said: ‘I cannot fully express my disappointment with this decision and with UK Athletics’ unfair handling of this process. I strongly deny all the charges made against me.

‘From the beginning, I co-operated with UK Athletics and the appointed independent investigator.

‘Unfortunately, the investigation was one-sided. For example, I offered to provide UKA with the names and contact details of 80 witnesses, including my then training group. UK Athletics declined the list of those witnesses.

‘The tribunal failed to engage properly with the available evidence.

‘For example, one of the most serious allegations was said to have taken place when I was in a different country to the person making the allegations.

Former Olympic bobsledder Nicola (pictured), 44, was herself coached by him and went on to become his wife, separating 16 years ago

‘The tribunal refused to admit my evidence on this point and found against me as a result.

‘There were many instances of witnesses providing suspiciously similar answers to questions, including demonstrably incorrect ones, suggestive of collusion; again, the tribunal failed to appropriately address their minds to the important issue of collusion which was evident throughout significant parts of the evidence.

‘There were also instances of witnesses breaching confidentiality to speak to each other during the investigation, which the tribunal failed to address. 

‘It is very important UKA respond quickly and seriously to serious allegations of misconduct, especially when those allegations are made by young people.

‘However, those investigations and tribunals need to be conducted carefully, with due process and fairly. I do not believe that I have been treated fairly in this instance.

‘I would like to show my appreciation to the witnesses who came forward to support me, and also give my appreciation and complete understanding to the witnesses who wished to come forward to support me but were unable to do so, being concerned by the possibility of negative repercussions for their future careers.’

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