Mhairi Maclennan calls for former coach and abuser John Lees to be STRIPPED of his prestigious Scottish Athletics award after he was handed a lifetime ban for sexual misconduct
Top Scots runner Mhairi Maclennan has called for the coach who abused her to be stripped of a prestigious Scottish Athletics award.
John Lees was handed a lifetime ban last month for inappropriate behaviour towards athletes, including Maclennan, 26, who has waived her right to anonymity.
Now she says the Development Coach of the Year award that Lees received three years ago, when abuse of athletes under his care was taking place, should be ‘removed along with his licence’.
Lees, who has coached international level athletes, was found guilty of five charges by an independent appeal committee and admitted to two others.
Upheld charges included 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.
Lees had admitted to massaging an athlete at his home when she was under 18, and making sexualised comments to athletes in his training group. The Edinburgh coach committed the breaches of his UKA Coaching Licence between 2013 and 2020.
Mhairi Maclennan (above) has called for her former coach and abuser John Lees to be stripped of a prestigious coaching award after he was given a lifetime ban for sexual misconduct
Lees (pictured) won Development Coach of the Year in 2018 and Scottish Athletics say they are discussing possible options
Sportsmail approached Scottish Athletics for comment last night following Maclennan’s call for the removal of the award.
Their chief executive Colin Hutchison said: ‘Following the permanent withdrawal of the UKA Coach Licence for John Lees, the Board of scottishathletics quickly instigated discussions around any further appropriate actions that should be taken.
‘Our Awards process is overseen by our Nominations Committee and the terms of reference of that body allow for recommendations to be made to our Board for the withdrawal of an Award in exceptional circumstances.
‘We are committed to ensuring the welfare of all athletes and partakers in our sport and work closely with UK Athletics and club Welfare Officers to do this.
‘Our safeguarding policies and procedures have been further strengthened over the past year and the MyConcern portal (via UK Athletics) has been set up for reporting complaints or concerns by athletes or anyone in the sport about inappropriate behaviour.
‘We underline our support to the athletes who came forward in the John Lees case.’