‘I have been the victim of a deeply flawed process’ - Toni Minichiello hits back at UK Sport ruling

Jessica Ennis-Hill’s former coach Toni Minichiello says he is “the victim of a flawed process” after he was declared ineligible for public funding by UK Sport earlier this week.

Minichiello, pictured, was given a life ban from athletics in August 2022 after an investigation found he engaged in “sexually physical behaviour” with athletes.

UK Sport, which funds Olympic and Paralympic athletes, support staff and governing bodies, announced on Monday that an appeal panel had declared Minichiello ineligible to receive public funding or publicly-funded benefits.

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Minichiello, who was Ennis-Hill’s coach when she won Olympic heptathlon gold at London 2012, said in a statement issued to the PA news agency: “I have been the victim of a deeply flawed process and a system that is not fit for purpose for nearly three years.

Toni Minichiello, the former coach of Jessica Ennis-Hill (Picture: Ian Walton/Getty Images)Toni Minichiello, the former coach of Jessica Ennis-Hill (Picture: Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Toni Minichiello, the former coach of Jessica Ennis-Hill (Picture: Ian Walton/Getty Images)

“The public would be shocked to learn that UK Sport chooses to rely on a disciplinary process run by UK Athletics that ran down my coaching licence, while it was suspended for over 400 days, knowing that it would deny me an appeal. How can this be fair and reasonable?

“Further that UK Athletics directed the investigation to not call any of the 80 witnesses put to them that were supportive of me. I shall be raising the many issues that have emerged with my MP. A publicly-funded system with no clear accountability is simply not fit for purpose.”

A UK Sport spokesperson said: “We cannot comment on individual cases. However, as the agency responsible for funding Olympic and Paralympic sport in the UK, we will not tolerate inappropriate or unacceptable behaviour by those that are in the privileged position of receiving our support.

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“The eligibility policy exists to help drive the highest standards of conduct, therefore protecting our ambition to keep winning and win well, and in turn the positive impact sport has on society.

“Our eligibility policy sets out a fair and robust process for making decisions which embeds independent consideration and scrutiny of all evidence, including that from third party investigations.

“While we are not an investigatory or regulatory body, our eligibility policy process ensures that individuals who do not abide by the standards that we set, do not benefit from receiving public funds.

“We encourage anyone in the Olympic and Paralympic community to disclose any concerns about inappropriate or unacceptable behaviour either to their sport or Sport Integrity, a confidential reporting line and independent investigation service.”

UK Athletics has also been contacted for comment.

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UK Sport’s initial decision on funding, which came after the August 2022 ban was imposed by an independent case management group, was the subject of an appeal by Minichiello before the appeal panel ruling was made public on Monday.

UK Sport said Minichiello would remain ineligible until it is satisfied he has been granted a coach licence or appointed to a role which potentially qualifies him to public funding or publicly-funded benefits by either UK Athletics or another national sports governingbody.

Sheffield athlete Ennis-Hill said in August 2022 that the findings against her former coach were “shocking and upsetting” but said she had never been on the receiving end of any inappropriate treatment.

Minichiello had denied the charges against him, but UK Athletics said at the time that the findings, which amounted to a large number of breaches of its coach licence terms over a 15-year period, constituted “gross breaches of trust”.

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Minichiello’s coaching licence expired during that original disciplinary process, but UK Athletics said there would never be a time in the future where it would be appropriate to issue a new licence.

Wheelchair racers at this year’s TCS London Marathon will compete for the same prize money as able-bodied athletes.

In a significant step for disability sports, the annual event will become the first marathon in the world to offer all entrants parity, meaning the winners of each of the elite races will receive 55,000 US dollars (£43,410), with the runner-up taking 30,000 US dollars (£23,678) and third-place 22,500 US dollars (£17,758).

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