Tag Archives: Mark Munro

Coach John Lees banned for lifetime

A British athletics coach has been banned for life for sexual misconduct John Lees was found guilty of five charges and he admitted to other counts.

The independent appeal committee, chaired by Jane Mulcahy QC, found him guilty of five charges relating to his misconduct towards athletes.

An additional two charges were admitted by Lees, who was based in Edinburgh.

The panel concluded: “We are left with the view that [Lees] habitually behaved inappropriately, had disregard for the rules and, as we have already noted, had no idea of boundaries.”

Scottish cross-country champion Mhairi Maclennan was one of the athletes to testify against Lees.

Waiving her right to anonymity, she said: “For me, today marks what I hope to be the end of a very long journey.

“This experience has certainly tested me in ways I never imagined possible. I’m immensely proud of all the athletes that have spoken up in this case, and I stand with all athletes, past and present, from our group.

“I hope that our story helps to change the narrative and sets a precedent that athletes will no longer suffer in silence.”

Lees had appealed against the decision in February to ban him from coaching and also against the length.

On Thursday, charges against Lees were found proven by the appeal panel of sexual touching, making a sexualised comment to a female athlete, endangering an athlete’s safety by “causing injury by administering a chiropractic adjustment” and providing chiropractic adjustments while not being appropriately qualified.

The further charges admitted by Lees related to massaging an athlete at his home address when she was under 18, and making inappropriate and sexualised comments to athletes in his training group.

British athletics John Lees (pictured) has been given a life ban for sexual misconduct

UK Athletics’ (UKA) submission to the appeal panel said: “[Lees] has shown a blatant disregard for the rules and an insistence on doing things his way… he could not even acknowledge that what he did was wrong.”

The panel concluded that his conduct was “very serious”.

It added: “Further, we are very troubled by his attitude and his continuing failure… to take any responsibility or to accept his conduct was wanting in any way.

“Our unanimous view is that [his] conduct and failure to accept any need for change renders him untrustworthy and unsuitable to work as a UKA licensed coach now or in the future.

“We have therefore decided that the appropriate sanction is the permanent withdrawal of [his] UKA coaching licence.”

The panel concluded: ‘We are left with the view that he habitually behaved inappropriately, had disregard for the rules and, as we have already noted, had no idea of boundaries.’

The UKA’s interim chief executive, Mark Munro, said: ‘We are pleased with the decision by the panel.

‘Athletics cannot tolerate the type of behaviour highlighted in this case. This decision shows that the welfare is at the front and centre of UK Athletics’ and at the heart of what we stand for.’

UK Athletics CEO Joanna Coates and performance director Sara Symington resign

UK Athletics has plummeted to a new low with the dramatic resignations of CEO Joanna Coates and performance director Sara Symington.

Coates walked out of the crisis-hit organisation following her participation in a fiery board meeting on Wednesday. Coates, the former chief of England Netball, departs after less than two tumultuous years in the post. Following her appointment in March 2020, her reign has been plagued by in-fighting and characterised by unpopular decisions.

Symington, a former Team GB cyclist who competed at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, was appointed even more recently, in August 2020, and returns to her former sport. She takes over a newly-created role as head of the Olympic and Paralympic Programme for the Great Britain Cycling Team (GBCT).

Mark Munro, current UK Athletics development director, will take over as interim CEO for six months and will work with the board to start the recruitment process for both roles.

UK Athletics chair Ian Beattie said: “I’d like to thank Jo and Sara for their work during their time at UK Athletics and I wish them both all the best for the future.”

International Cross Country switched from Edinburgh to Stirling

Edinburgh’s only major athletics event is officially leaving the Capital after it was revealed the annual international cross-country will switch to a new location in Scotland from 2019.

Stirling will be the new home for the prestigious race, which had been based in Holyrood Park since 2005, and has attracted many of the world’s best distance runners to the city including the likes of Mo Farah and Kenesisa Bekele, as well as providing a stage for young hopefuls competing at the adjoining junior competitions and thousands of casual competitors in the Great Winter Run.

However, it is understood personal pleas from race supremo Brendan Foster towards officials from City of Edinburgh Council to reverse their decision to withdraw their £100,000 funding fell on deaf ears.

“The Edinburgh international cross-country is a fantastic event for Scotland,” said VisitScotland’s Events Director Paul Bush. “It gets 1.4 million viewers on BBC TV. We’ve always been keen to keep it in Scotland. And we’re now at a point where we’re finalising a three-year contract with a new host city.”

With Meadowbank Stadium presently closed, it is another hammer blow for the sport with Scottish Athletics chief Mark Munro previously describing Edinburgh’s move as “disappointing.”