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The riders and staff of the Astana team have not been paid for two months.
Spanish newspaper AS reported the news on Monday, noting that those on Astana are starting to get nervous after two months without salaries. According to AS, Astana brass had not yet provided team personnel with date for the payment of salaries.
Following the publication of the story, the team confirmed the delay but also offered a timeline for payment in a statement to media from general manager Alexandre Vinokourov and managing director Yana Seel.
“As we are being sponsored by official government organization sometimes there is a delay of payment due to slow administrative processing of the funds approval,” read the joint statement. “Last week our Team received official confirmation that the problem will be solved by the end of this week and we will get the funds to cover February and March wages.”
This is not the first time the team has gone some ways into a racing season unpaid. Back in 2009, serious delays in payment led Lance Armstrong and several teammates at the Giro d’Italia to protest the situation by fading out the Astana team name on their jerseys.
Then, in 2018, Vinokourov publicly voiced concern in February that Astana personnel had not yet been paid, with main sponsor Samruk Kazyna, a sovereign wealth fund, freeing up money for team salaries shortly thereafter.
In Monday’s statement, team brass emphasized that Samruk Kazyna’s budget has been approved, and that the fund has delivered on its financial commitments to the team for the past 15 seasons.
“We are confident that after this week, the problems will be solved and that we can continue to perform in the upcoming races,” read the statement. “We also want to make clear that our current withdrawal from races due to the coronavirus has nothing to do with the financial delay.”