Agent Did Not Warn Anyone About Star Runner Agnes Tirop’s Husband — Then She Was Killed – Eagle News Feed
“If you are a slave, but you don’t know to be a slave, you are a slave. So he decides for you”, says sports agent Gianni Demadonna, one of the world’s most successful agents in long-distance running.
Asked if he could refuse to accept doing business with an athlete who is being treated like a slave, Demadonna says this is not an option.
“Then you are out of the business very soon. If you don’t want to accept that situation, you are out of the business very soon,” he says.
In Swedish Radio’s investigation, a number of elite athletes and others aware of the situation say the exploitation of female runners — by men who control their lives, careers, and incomes — is a widespread problem at the highest levels of the sport.
Some say these athletes are being treated like “cash cows” or “slaves”.
World record-breaking runner killed
One of those who according to witness testimony was said to have been exploited and controlled is the Kenyan long-distance runner and star athlete Agnes Tirop.
In Autumn 2021, she set a new world record — she was found dead just weeks later, stabbed in the neck. Her husband, who was also her coach, was arrested and suspected of murder.
As Agnes Tirop’s agent, Gianni Demadonna received a portion of the money she earned and says he had long been aware of the athlete’s problems with her coach and husband.
“The man was very possessive, he was really manipulating her. He was only taking advantage of her,” he says.
“I am not the Red Cross”
Demadonna points out that he didn’t believe the situation would lead to Agnes Tirop’s death.
He says he believes she was afraid, and that he at one point told her not to go back to her house, she was staying at his training camp at the time.
He also says he’d tried to talk to her about how she needed more independence from her husband.
However, when Agnes Tirop told her husband about this conversation, Demadonna says the man threatened to move her over to another agent.
Demadonna dropped the issue as a result, and he also didn’t warn anyone else about his concerns.
“In the end, if you don’t want to lose that athlete you have to accept it. So I decided to stay outside the family affairs,” he says.
Asked about this decision in light of Agnes Tirop’s death, Demadonna had this to say:
“I am not a Samaritan. I am not the Red Cross. I mean I am doing business. If I don’t deal with that woman or that athlete, somebody else will come and will deal.”
Adidas’s new promise
After Agnes Tirop’s death, her sponsor Adidas decided to change the way it works with the athletes it sponsors, in order to mitigate the risk of women being exploited.
“We want to stop empowering persons around woman athletes, and therefore we want to deal directly with the woman athlete,” says Spencer Nel, a top boss at Adidas.
The shoe giant now demands more from the sports agents it works with in order to sign contracts with athletes.
Those agents are no longer to accept a situation where a man is making decisions for a female runner, instead of the athlete herself.
And if an agent Adidas collaborates with allows that to happen, then the company will stop working with them.
“This is not going to happen in the future. We are not going to fuel the fire,” says Spencer Nel.
The top agent continues working with star athletes’ husbands
However, Swedish Radio can now show that the shoes giant’s top agent, Gianni Demadonna, says himself that he’s continued to work with the husbands of athletes he manages.
“If I have 50 women, 47 are waiting always for what the man is deciding. He decides for you,” says Demadonna.
Asked if he is currently working with female athletes who are in that situation, and if he is dealing with their husbands instead of the athletes themselves, Demadonna says he is.
“Unfortunately that is the situation. I cannot say all women, but most of the women have to deal with their husbands. I mean you have to deal with her, but the final decision is of the husband,” he says.
Legal proceedings against Agnes Tirop’s coach and husband are ongoing
He maintains that he is innocent of murder, and Swedish Radio has approached him for comment through his lawyer, who did not respond to questions related to the case.
Prosecutors say the man is trying to reach a legal settlement where he will plead guilty to manslaughter instead of murder.
By Sveriges Radio