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Although the Colombia-Coldeportes team promised three months ago to pay overdue salaries by the end of the year, the UCI has confirmed that one rider has initiated an appeal to it to try to secure funds in relation to unpaid wages.
Other individuals have also made enquiries, suggesting a widespread problem may remain.
All registered teams must lodge a bank guarantee when registering prior to a new season. Colombia-Coldeportes would have done so prior to the 2015 season and this should, in theory, be available for riders and other staff should due payments not be made.
In October news emerged that some riders had apparently not been paid for four months. With a further two months to go until the end of the year, the situation was critical.
Contacted then by CyclingTips, a team spokesman said the situation would be rectified as soon as possible.
“When it comes to governmental funds, delays in delivery are part of the business,” he said. “I can tell you that the team is waiting for a payment from Coldeportes, that is reported and expected to be coming in short time.
“After the payment is sealed, the team will be able to regularly settle everything until the end of the year.”
It appears this has not been done.
The UCI has updated the situation, confirming that there appears to be an ongoing situation. “To date one application has been introduced before the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) to call up the bank guarantee,” a spokesman told CyclingTips.
“Requests for information with regards to the applicable procedure have been received.”
The spokesman added that, as per article 2.16.031 of the UCI Regulations, any application for the guarantee to be called upon must be submitted to the UCI by 1 March 2016 at the latest.
Indications that up to six months’ salary may be overdue
The latest news follows on from an article last week in the El Tiempo newspaper. This stated that team employees were owed six months’ salary.
It also said that riders had found a tough time to secure squads for 2016, with the team’s announcement in October that it would stop giving them little time to find new berths.
Of the 18 riders, 14 have found squads, but only three of the competitors have been able to stay in Europe. These are Leonardo Duque, who signed for Marseille Delko, Rodolfo Torres [Androni] and Daniel Martinez [Southeast Venezuela].
Many of the others have had to sign for small Colombian teams, thus greatly impacting on their ambitions of making it in Europe.
In October the team said it would stop, “due to the impossibility of its first backer, Colombia’s Sports Ministry “Coldeportes”, to confirm the necessary funding to continue the cycling activity at the highest level.”
General manager Claudio Corti appeared to blame Coldeportes in the matter.
“Unfortunately, the final decision by Coldeportes was communicated to us only in the very last few days, meaning we could not proceed any further with the Union Cycliste Internationale, nor we could give a better opportunity to the whole team – riders, sports directors, staff and sponsors – that worked with us in the last year.”
However others have suggested that Corti has responsibility for the unpaid salaries and that he has let the riders and staff down.
If it is indeed true that six months’ salaries are owed to all team employees, the UCI bank guarantee will not be sufficient to cover the full sum.
Under UCI regulation 2.16.024, Pro Continental squads must deposit “a quarter of all the gross sums to be paid by the professional continental team to the riders and persons contracted for the operation of the team during the registration year plus the amount of CHF 15,000.”