Astana riders and staff have not been paid since start of 2020, Vinokourov confirms

The team boss says wages will be paid this week

WorldTour outfit Astana have not paid riders or staff for the past two months because the arrival of the team’s budget for 2020 has been delayed.

The Kazakh team is backed by the country’s sovereign wealth fund Samruk Kazyna and team boss Alexandre Vinokourov has released a statement reassuring that the situation will be resolved soon.

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“We confirm that Astana has not been able to pay everyone’s wages in 2020 yet. The payment was done partially. We also want to confirm that the total budget of the main sponsor Samruk Kazyna has been successfully approved,” Vinokourov said.

Spanish newspaper AS originally reported the WorldTour team’s financial issues, with Vinokourov quick to point out the fact the team is funded by an official government organisation, bureaucracy can sometimes slow down the transfer of funds.

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“It is also worth mentioning the fact that Astana has already started its 15th season and during all these years our main sponsor Samruk Kazyna has duly provided us with the necessary funds. As we are being sponsored by official government organisation, sometimes there is a delay of payment due to slow administrative processing of the fund’s approval,” Vinokourov said.

The team faced a similar problem in 2018 when their funding arrived late and riders were encouraged to “continue as normal” until their salaries were paid.

Astana have had a successful start to 2020, with their rider Jakob Fuglsang taking two stages and the overall victory at the Ruta del Sol. This win came after an explosive leaked report linked the Danish rider to banned Italian doctor Michele Ferrari.

Both Ferrari and Fuglsang deny the claims, with Fuglsang saying: “I contest that I have met with Dr Ferrari. I am not aware of any report and I can confirm no procedure has even been opened by competent anti-doping authorities against me. Accordingly, I have no case to answer. I am extremely concerned that such rumours could be spread out in the press.”