Home
UCI becomes involved as salary rules come under scrutiny

Cycling stars’ salaries have come under the spotlight this week, focused under the issue of whether or not high-profile riders can forgo their salaries and, in effect, ride for free. The issue was raised by the return of Danilo di Luca to the sport, who offered to ride for Katusha for nothing, and now it has also embroiled Lance Armstrong too.

World cycling’s governing body, the UCI, has confirmed that Armstrong, who in 2008 ahead of his comeback with Astana claimed that he would be riding for the Kazakh ProTour outfit for free, did actually take a salary from the team for that season, although he donated it to charity and was therefore effectively racing for free.

The issue came to light after the UCI said earlier this week that DI Luca would not be allowed to ride for Katusha without taking a salary this season since it contravened UCI rules.

The Italian is returning to the sport after his suspension following a failed drugs test in the 2009 Giro d’Italia, a race in which he finished second overall.

The former LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini rider, who has signed a one-year contract with Katusha, had agreed with team manager Andrei Tchmil that his salary would be set at zero and that he would only race for prize money.

However, that fell foul of UCI regulations stipulating riders must receive a minimum salary of €49,500, partly designed to prevent teams exploiting cyclists desperate to break into the pro ranks or keep their place in the peloton once there.

News of the UCI’s stance on Di Luca caused thoughts to turn to Armstrong, who repeatedly asserted both before and during his comeback season in 2009 that he was riding for free to raise awareness for his Livestrong cancer charity.

In an interview published in the American magazine Vanity Fair in September 2008 after announcing his comeback, Armstrong said: “Everybody in cycling has a team and takes a team salary. I am essentially racing for free. No salary. No bonus. Nothing on the line… This one’s on the house. And you know what? At the end of the day, I don’t need money… Not only will I be fine, my kids will be fine, my grandkids will be fine.”

Armstrong consistently stated throughout the 2009 season in media interviews that he was riding for free, which since it has now emerged that he donated his salary to charity, was effectively the case.

Confirmation of that was given this week by a spokesman for the seven-time Tour de France to the website Velonation this week, which also reported that the UCI had confirmed that Armstrong had drawn a salary from Astana.

It is not the first time that statements made by Armstrong, currently preparing for next week’s Tour Down Under, which he has said will be his last race outside the United States, have been questioned.

The cyclist has in the past categorically stated that he didn’t own a stake in Tailwind Sports, owner of the former US Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams, but in a deposition made by Armstrong himself in relation to a 2005 lawsuit brought by SCA Promotions, he said he owned around 10% of the company, an inconsistency his critics have been quick to seize upon.

Last year, the Texan’s final full season on the road with the newly-launched Team RadioShack, was in large part overshadowed by the allegations of organised doping levelled at Armstrong and other members of US Postal Service by former team mate Floyd Landis, who at the same time confessed to his own past doping transgressions.

Since then, Armstrong and other former US Postal Service and Discovery Team colleagues have found themselves at the centre of an investigation into doping within US cycling led by Special Agent Jeff Novitzky of the Food & Drug Administration which is also the subject of a Federal Grand Jury Investigation in Los Angeles.

The US press has followed developments in the case closely, and rumours have been circulating for several weeks now that the magazine Sports Illustrated will shortly publish a major story on Armstrong which it is widely believed will contain further allegations against him.
 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

9 comments

Avatar
Chuffy [201 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes

So, in relation to his Astana season, Armstrong lied. There's no other way of expressing it

The backdated 'I gave it to charity' excuse is weak to say the least. There was no reason not to come out with it at the time. 'I'm riding for nothing and my team are making a charity donation equivalent to the salary I would have received' is a good bit of PR that someone as savvy as Spinstrong wouldn't have been slow to pass up.

Avatar
theswordsman [4 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes

First of all, he exercised control over $35,000 or whatever of someone else's money, so he did get paid. It doesn't say Astana sent a check to his foundation, he received the money and chose what to do with it.

If we want to believe that this once he told the truth, and wrote a check to the foundation for that amount, did he lawfully report it as income? So he would have paid taxes on salary he didn't plan to keep? Did he take the deduction for the charitable contribution?

Here's a quote from a 2009 interview with James Raia:

"L.A: Those guys are paid to race. I'm not paid to race. I'm racing as a volunteer for Livestrong. Legally, I can't wear Livestrong in the race or I would, but anytime outside of a race I am going to fulfill my commitment to my organization.

Again, it would different if it were Discover Channel (his former team) and you were getting a big, fat salary. You have to train in that kit. But the fact that I'm not taking a salary from Astana means that I can wear what ever I want to wear, I think?"

If he had a UCI & Ernst & Young approved contract with Astana, wouldn't he, like every other rider, be expected to train in his team kit, and wear their casual clothing to cycling appearances? Being seen in person or in a photo wearing Livestrong logos is as much an advertisement for his money-making Livestrong.com as the .org. And on a number of occasions, he trained in Mellow Johnny's kit. I knew some Australian fans who ordered it because he wore it.

He led the world to believe he had no contract, and was caught out again. I sure hope he reported the Astana income.

Avatar
gazzaputt [213 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes
theswordsman wrote:

First of all, he exercised control over $35,000 or whatever of someone else's money, so he did get paid. It doesn't say Astana sent a check to his foundation, he received the money and chose what to do with it.

If we want to believe that this once he told the truth, and wrote a check to the foundation for that amount, did he lawfully report it as income? So he would have paid taxes on salary he didn't plan to keep? Did he take the deduction for the charitable contribution?

Here's a quote from a 2009 interview with James Raia:

"L.A: Those guys are paid to race. I'm not paid to race. I'm racing as a volunteer for Livestrong. Legally, I can't wear Livestrong in the race or I would, but anytime outside of a race I am going to fulfill my commitment to my organization.

Again, it would different if it were Discover Channel (his former team) and you were getting a big, fat salary. You have to train in that kit. But the fact that I'm not taking a salary from Astana means that I can wear what ever I want to wear, I think?"

If he had a UCI & Ernst & Young approved contract with Astana, wouldn't he, like every other rider, be expected to train in his team kit, and wear their casual clothing to cycling appearances? Being seen in person or in a photo wearing Livestrong logos is as much an advertisement for his money-making Livestrong.com as the .org. And on a number of occasions, he trained in Mellow Johnny's kit. I knew some Australian fans who ordered it because he wore it.

He led the world to believe he had no contract, and was caught out again. I sure hope he reported the Astana income.

Where did he say he had no contract?

How did he lie? He raced for free the salary paid by Astana did not go to him and he did not personally benefit financially.

Another nonsense Lance story.

Avatar
kenem [3 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes

You've been drawn into the minutiae of the case - a bit like homeopathy keep diluting and it will eventually disappear.
Keep your mind on the bigger picture - LA has cheated, lied, found an excellent PR front in Livestrong (from which he also profits immensely) and PR will be his only defence. Believe it and you're succoured, you'll never read the real evidence.

Avatar
Decster [246 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes

The guy is as Paul Kimmage said the cancer in cycling.

Avatar
simonmb [353 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes
gazzaputt wrote:

Where did he say he had no contract?

Armstrong didn't say that. Whatever else he is, he's not completely stupid. He's not as clever as he thinks he is either. What a sorry end to a career where everything this man says is questioned - and unsurprisingly so since much of it is soon found to be at best 'spin' and at worst 'lies'. He's brought this on himself and it is surely incomprehensible that anyone could have any sympathy for him.

Avatar
abudhabiChris [692 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes

I've never been a Lance fan, but if this is the sort of non-story that people are using to beat him over the head with then maybe I may find myself sympathising with him.

Clearly he was saying that the difference between him and the other riders is that if they lose, or perform badly, or don't toe the sponsor's line, then they will suffer financially.

He was giving up his salary - the effect is the same as doing it for free. Is he also being criticised for not revealing that he was making a charitable donation ? And for not training in team kit ?  29 Give me strength.

As for tax, well I suspect there could be accounting errors higher than $30,000 on Armstrong's return.

He may be a COTHO but unless he has taken the salary and not donated it - and I don't see that being suggested - then I fail to see the point.

Avatar
Michael5 [121 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes
abudhabiChris wrote:

I've never been a Lance fan, but if this is the sort of non-story that people are using to beat him over the head with then maybe I may find myself sympathising with him.

He may be a COTHO but unless he has taken the salary and not donated it - and I don't see that being suggested - then I fail to see the point.

Well said.

(Nobody in Britain could back Lance - he's a winner and we look for opportunities to knock winners don't we?)

He may be a cheat and a liar but even if that is true do you think road racing would be as popular in the US without his success? Any big market will help encourage innovation, improvements to kit etc and the US is undoubtedly the biggest in the western world.

So, indirectly and whether you like it or not, we have all probably benefited from his influence.

Avatar
g1deonian [16 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes

LA stories have gotten very boring and dull. Judge him by what he did on a bike and ignore the rest.. it's just noise.