Team Astana riders and staff are still waiting on their paypackets from the past two months due to ‘delays in payment’ from Kazakh government backers.
“We confirm that Astana has not been able to pay everyone’s wages in 2020 yet,” said Vinokourov. “The payment was done partially. We also want to confirm that the total budget of the main sponsor Samruk Kazyna has been successfully approved.”
“It is also worth to mention the fact that Astana Pro Team has already started its fifteenth season and during all these years our main sponsor Samruk Kazyna duly provided us the necessary funds. 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.”
The Kazakh team has faced a similar situation before, in early 2018, when a delayed payment from state sponsors put them in peril. At the time, Vinokourov stressed the importance of the sponsorship funding, stating “flights, accommodation in the races, logistics… there are urgent costs that should not be delayed, and if we cannot meet them, they will lead us to the closure of the Astana after 13 years.”
The situation marks another setback for the team, who has already had to bat away rumored connections to controversial banned Doctor, Michele Ferrari, and now has determined to withdraw from racing through March 20 amid fears of the coronavirus epidemic.