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The dispute between Johnny Hoogerland and his 2014 team, Androni-Venezuela, has ratcheted up considerably with confirmation by the squad that it has filed a penal and criminal complaint against the rider.
At the end of December Hoogerland sent a Tweet to Brian Cookson, making clear he had a grievance. He asked the UCI president “where can you go as a rider when your team does not pay your salary?”
The Androni team reacted swiftly, issuing a statement on the same day saying that it rejected the rider’s suggestion and that it considered it ‘seriously detrimental.’
It insisted that his contract had been fully respected, with approximately 4,300 euro sent each month. It said that on December 29 the final month of his contract had been paid, with 1,910.23 euro being issued. It claimed that its salary department explained to him that the remaining amount, namely 2,327.16 euro, had been “paid to the Italian State as IRPEF (income tax) balance, and that he would detract the same amount from the taxes to be paid in the Netherlands, as stated in the CUD (certification of the salaries received by a worker) which will be sent him in February.”
It added that it considered the issue settled but when the rider wrote his public tweet to Cookson, that it considered a “seriously defamatory” situation had been created for the team.
“Our Solicitor Avv. Giuseppe Napoleone will take Hoogerland to Penal Court with charge of calumny and defamation and to Civil Court for punitive damages,” it said then.
Hoogerland then responded, giving his point of view to De Telegraaf. The Dutchman said that he had been asking the team to sign an A1 form since June, something he said is needed for social insurance in the Netherlands. He claimed that the team refused to comply with this request, and had also never paid him money for his image rights.
Furthermore, he said that the team’s December only constituted 40 percent of his usual salary and that this clashed with Article 11 of the UCI/AIGCP joint agreement which he said specifies that riders should receive the same amount each month.
The team’s statement on Thursday makes clear that it intends to press on with the threatened legal action.
It said that it had filed “penal charges of calumny and defamation and civil charges for punitive damages to the Public Prosecutor Office in Torino against Johnny Hoogerland, following the rider’s false declarations, [which are] seriously defamatory for the team.”
It reiterated that the 2327.16 amount demanded by Hoogerland had been paid to the Italian state and that he would be entitled to deduct this amount from taxes owed in the Netherlands.
Team manager Gianni Savio argued that the rider had not behaved professionally in the matter.
“Our team has always acted correctly whereas Hooogerland’s behaviour is appalling,” he claimed. “Therefore he will have to respond in Court of his calumnies.”