A revealing interview with Flavio Becca – Radioshack-Leopard-Trek team owner on cyclingnews today. Riders and staff haven’t received their wages for May yet, although he claims they have been paid now. Time will tell. As is to be expected from the McQuaid of team owners, his comments confuse more than they clarify. For example, he says:
“I prefer that I don’t have the money and that people are paid, that’s really important for me to say.”
Actually, he just did the opposite, at the end of May he didn’t pay the people. I can sympathise with a team owner who doesn’t have the money, but is that what he is saying? That he’s gone from uber-rich business owner to not having one month of salaries to his name anymore? It’s possible, after all he’s in the real-estate business and that’s not exactly a booming trade, but it would be an extreme reversal of fortune.
But the statement that really got me was the following:
When asked if Frank could even ride for the team this year, Becca said, “It’s too early to clarify that position. It’s too early.”
Frank Schleck is on month 11 of a 12 month ban, and it’s still too early for the team owner to clarify his position? I’m no fan of going soft on dopers, but it’s also not fair to leave people hanging. If you don’t want him anymore, for sure you could’ve told him by now. The reason Becca hasn’t made up his mind yet is that it depends on whether Trek takes over his team. Trek may not want Frank, and therefore it may want Becca to fire him and use the doping positive as an excuse.
I would think the lawyers will have a field day if Becca decides to terminate Frank Schleck’s contract. Never mind trying to establish that Becca fired him for the wrong reason (Trek instead of the doping infraction), the time delay will likely also present a major hurdle to Becca. Generally in labor arrangements you are required to take immediate action when a violation becomes apparent. Waiting 11 months won’t qualify as such. Now, I’m no lawyer nor do I play one on TV, but this appears to be pretty standard stuff.
In short, the turmoil at Leopard is not over yet. Good news for IAM, which undoubtedly is still trying to secure Fabian Cancellara’s services. He seems inclined to stay with Leopard if Trek takes over, but if it takes too long, he will opt for the certainty of an IAM (or BMC) contract. Cancellara has never really demonstrated nerves of steel off the bike.
See there the irony of the situation. Trek wants Leopard with Cancellara and without Frank Schleck, but insisting on Frank being fired may cause them to lose Cancellara. In which case Trek won’t buy the team, Becca will have a team without Frank Schleck and Cancellara, and the team sinks deeper and deeper into irrelevance.
Note: Frank may not be an employee but a contractor, but I doubt that will make much difference in this case.