An alleged affair between a renowned coach and a teenage British athlete 26 years his junior was the subject of a flawed probe by UK Athletics, it can be revealed.
It has been claimed by multiple sources that the married American coach Rana Reider, now 51 and facing a sexual misconduct investigation in the US, was in an intimate relationship with the British athlete.
Sources claim the alleged affair started around 2014 when the female sprinter was 18 and he was UK Athletics (UKA) sprints and relays lead — a post he held from October 2012 until his sudden exit in October 2014.
American coach Rana Reider is alleged to have had an affair with an 18-year-old British athlete
While UKA had never previously commented on long-standing rumours of that relationship, Sportsmail has learned they had received internal concerns about Reider earlier in 2014.
Despite those concerns, UKA are said to have denied know-ledge of it when asked by the Dutch Athletics Federation who subsequently recruited Reider.
After being contacted by Sportsmail, UKA confirmed yesterday that there was an internal investigation into Reider in 2014. They have not disclosed their findings, citing the forthcoming investigation in the US, but pointed out his contract was terminated ‘soon after’ and, intriguingly, said an inquiry now would be handled differently.
It is understood that the initial probe was carried out predominantly by the late Neil Black’s performance team, rather than a welfare or safeguarding department.
We can reveal concerns were raised with UKA in a report by senior team officials following a series of alleged incidents at the World Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon in July 2014.
Several members of the British delegation, including senior staff, were alarmed to learn one of their 18-year-old athletes was visiting the then 44-year-old’s room at the team hotel for treatments.
His place in the hotel was already contentious, because personal coaches typically stay at alternative accommodation. The claim he was then administering treatment in his private room, as opposed to a common area, exacerbated concern.
There was further unease about the pair using the practice track when not in use by the wider group and that they were dining together away from the hotel.
Matters are believed to have come to a head when the pair were seen holding hands, at which point a member of team staff confronted Reider and he moved to new accommodation.
The claims come after news last month that the US Centre for SafeSport are planning to investigate Reider over multiple complaints of sexual misconduct.
British athlete Daryll Neita has subsequently decided to leave Reider’s Florida-based training group, but fellow sprinters Adam Gemili and Laviai Nielsen opted to stay, pending the outcome of the investigation — a decision that went against an order from UKA’s new hierarchy to cease association.
When presented with the latest developments, a US-based lawyer for Reider, Ryan Stevens, told Sportsmail via email: ‘We are not going to engage in these attacks on Rana’s character from seven years ago. We will defend the SafeSport matter vigorously if they serve a notice of allegations. To date, they have not.’
While UKA’s rules at the time did not expressly ban relationships between a coach and an athlete, section 4.3 (iii) of their coach licence scheme drafted in 2012 stated: ‘it is also strongly recommended that coaches do not allow intimate relationships to develop with athletes (coached or supervised by them) even if they are over the age of 18’.
Under current rules it is banned and a coach could permanently lose his or her licence.
Sources claim that Reider’s alleged relationship with the British athlete ended several years ago, but questions have been asked privately about UKA’s handling of the matter.
Reider’s relationship with the younger athlete ended years ago, according to sources
In referring to Reider’s departure in 2014, three months after the World Junior Championships, UKA told Sportsmail: ‘The records we have of the issues and concerns raised at the time demonstrate that matters were referred to UK Athletics and investigated under the terms of the employment contract which was terminated soon after.
‘Whilst we cannot disclose any further detail due to the ongoing investigation, we can confirm we continue to be in contact with US SafeSport and will fully assist with any information.’
Despite the concerns raised in 2014, Reider’s work with the British relay teams was praised by the late Neil Black upon Reider’s exit which was ascribed to a decision to go freelance.
Until the recent public storm around Reider, UKA still permitted lottery-funded athletes, including Gemili, to continue training under the American.
In a recent interview in Holland, the Dutch federation’s technical director Ad Roskam was asked about their decision in 2014 to hire Reider. He claimed he contacted UKA and discussed the rumours around Reider.
Roskam told a Dutch news-paper: ‘We went to verify that with UK Athletics. They had no reason to suspect that there was anything untoward going on.’