Life ban - British athletics coach Toni Minichiello / © AFP/File
Toni Minichiello, one of Britain's leading track and field coaches, has been given a life ban after an investigation found he had engaged in "sexually physical behaviour" with athletes.
But Minichiello, who coached Jessica Ennis-Hill to heptathlon gold at the 2012 London Olympics, responded to Tuesday's announcement from UK Athletics (UKA) by saying he had been subjected to an "unfair" process, adding in a statement: "I strongly deny all the charges against me."
Minichiello was also deemed to have made inappropriate sexual references and gestures to athletes and engaged in "inappropriate and sometimes aggressive behaviour, bullying and emotional abuse".
UK Athletics said the findings, which amount to multiple breaches of its coach licence terms over a 15-year period, "constitute gross breaches of trust" and are of the "utmost seriousness".
- 'Demanding not inappropriate' -
But Minchiello, 56, insisted: "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's coaching licence expired during the disciplinary process, which means he cannot be suspended or subject to a sanction by UK Athletics.
However, the national governing body has said it will not consider any future application made by Minichiello for a coach licence following findings of the "utmost seriousness".
"They constitute gross breaches of trust by Mr Minichiello which have had severe consequences for the mental health and mental wellbeing of the athletes under his charge," a statement added.
Officials said issuing a licence to coach was essentially a vote of confidence that the person concerned could be trusted with the athletes under their 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 such a licence," with the statement adding any future application by Minichiello would be refused "in perpetuity."
The coach, however, said a tribunal had "failed to engage" with the available evidence, with Minichiello saying one of the most serious allegations against him had taken place when he was in a different country to his accuser.
"It is very important UK Athletics respond quickly and seriously to allegations of misconduct, especially when those allegations are made by young people," said Minichiello.
"However, those investigations and tribunals need to be conducted carefully, with due process and fairly.
"I do not believe I have been treated fairly in this instance."
'Upsetting' - Jessica Ennis-Hill has been alarmed by the allegations made against former coach Minichiello / © AFP/File
Ennis-Hill, while upset by Tuesday's ruling, insisted she had never been subjected to any inappropriate behaviour by Minichiello.
"Reading the news today about my former coach Toni Minichiello, it is both shocking and upsetting," she wrote on Instagram.
"The allegations are awful and although I was never on the receiving end of any sexual physical behaviour, any such inappropriate behaviour or language has no place in any coaching or work environment.
"Everyone should feel safe from any form of physical or mental abuse."