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Astana riders and staff not yet paid in 2020

Joseph Delves
9 Mar 2020

Kazakh-backed squad blames delay on bureaucracy rather than lack of funds

Staff and riders at Astana have not been paid for two months, according to reports. The WorldTour team managed by Alexander Vinokourov and home to riders including Jakob Fuglsang, Miguel Ángel López and Alexey Lutsenko has failed to provide salaries since the beginning of the year.

With the team backed by the Kazak government, its funding comes from the nation’s Samruk-Kazyna national welfare fund. This draws on ownership of many of the state’s major companies, with the team, in turn, acting to promote the nation’s business interests on the world stage. Astana is the common name for Kazakhstan’s capital city, which was officially renamed Nur-Sultan last year.

After the story was reported in Spanish newspaper AS, Vinokourov admitted the wages had not been paid but said that the cash had been approved by the government and the Samruk-Kazyna fund.

With wages covering January and February now outstanding, the incident is not the first time the squad has struggled to secure finance or pay its staff. Since 2006 when the Kazakh government took control of the squad, there have been several incidents relating to unpaid wages, all of which have eventually been resolved.

However, in 2018 Vinokourov himself raised doubts about the team’s future when he went public about the risk of delayed payment endangering the survival of the team. On that occasion, his intervention seemed to do the trick, and funding was forthcoming.

Like many other outfits, Astana has currently withdrawn from racing until at least 20th March, with management plausibly - and fairly - claiming this is due to coronavirus rather than lack of funds.

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