UK Athletics let Rana Reider coach track stars despite alleged affair with 18-year-old British athlete

·4-min read
Rana Reider (left) watches on as track stars including Adam Gemili (front) train - HEATHCLIFF O'MALLEY
Rana Reider (left) watches on as track stars including Adam Gemili (front) train - HEATHCLIFF O'MALLEY

UK Athletics allowed one of its senior coaches to continue looking after British athletes despite investigating claims that he had an alleged affair with an 18 year-old in his charge and terminating his contract months later.

Rana Reider was allowed to revert to a “freelance coach role” that saw him work with numerous top British athletes even after leaving his position as the UK’s sprinting lead following claims of an inappropriate relationship with one of his female athletes.

Reider, 51, is currently subject to an investigation by authorities in the United States into a number of sexual misconduct allegations.

The alleged affair with the 18-year-old British athlete is believed to have begun in 2014, with concerns raised to the governing body in the same year. UK Athletics has confirmed it investigated the issue internally. It declined to reveal its findings, but Reider’s contract was terminated a few months later.

He then moved his coaching operation to Holland, where he continued to look after a number of lottery-funded British athletes including Olympians Anyika Onuora, Martyn Rooney, Tiffany Porter, Desiree Henry, Lynsey Sharp and Shara Proctor.

Rumours of the circumstances surrounding his UK Athletics departure have long been rife in the sport. When asked in 2017 about rumours of an inappropriate relationship with an athlete, Reider told Telegraph Sport: “It’s bulls---. Really simple. Niels de Vos [then UK Athletics chief executive] and all those guys squashed that quick. They knew it wasn’t true. I wouldn’t have this job or any other job if it was true.”

Instead he said his departure was because “we were just going in different directions and butting heads every day”.

Leading British athletes have continued to work with Reider, who now operates out of Florida, in the intervening years until UK Athletics last month ordered them to cease contact with him upon learning that he was subject to a sexual misconduct investigation being conducted by the US Center for SafeSport.

Two athletes, Adam Gemili and Laviai Nielsen, declined to do so and have therefore been removed from the governing body’s World Class Programme, losing the associated funding that comes with it.

Reider worked for the Dutch athletics federation between 2014 and 2018 while continuing to coach British athletes. When asked last month about the decision to hire him, the organisation’s technical director Ad Roskam said: “When we approached Rana to come to the Netherlands, there were some rumours.

“I then had contact with my colleague, the technical director in England, and several conversations in the circuit. All those people assured me that nothing was wrong."

UK Athletics regulations in 2014 did not ban intimate relationships between coaches and athletes over the age of 18, but it “strongly recommended” against them. The organisation’s current rules, updated this year, ban such relationships with the threat that coaches could be stripped of their licence.

Of Reider’s departure from UK Athletics in 2014, a spokesperson for the organisation said: “The records we have of the issues and concerns raised at the time demonstrate that matters were referred to UK Athletics and investigated by recommendation of the welfare department under the terms of the employment contract, which was terminated soon after.

“Whilst we cannot disclose any further detail due to the ongoing investigation at this time, we can confirm we continue to be in contact with US SafeSport and will fully assist with any information we can provide.”

It is understood the initial UK Athletics investigation into Reider’s alleged affair in 2014 was not subject to a formal probe led by the organisation’s safeguarding department.

“There have been significant changes in structure, policies and process concerning safeguarding issues over the last two years and if similar concerns are raised, the investigation would be led primarily through the safeguarding systems in place,” said the UK Athletics spokesperson.

Reider’s lawyer this week said his client had “not received a notice of allegations or any substantive information from SafeSport”. Of the alleged inappropriate relationship in 2014, he told the Daily Mail: “We are not going to engage in these attacks on Rana’s character from seven years ago.”

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