UCI keeping embattled squad Zaaf under ‘daily’ monitoring amidst financial concerns

Team at risk of losing its license if UCI rules are found to be broken. Vuelta Femenina organizer has confirmed that the team has declined its race invitation.

Photo: Tim de Waele / Getty Images

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Embattled team Zaaf is currently under daily monitoring by the UCI, the governing body told VeloNews.

The Spanish squad hit the headlines over the last month following accusations the team is failing to pay its riders their salaries. Several riders have already quit the squad, with some citing “worsening issues and conditions” within the squad.

While no action has currently been taken against the team, the UCI told VeloNews that it is keeping up daily monitoring of the squad in conjunction with the Spanish national federation. The team could lose its UCI license if any rule breach is found.

“The UCI issues a reminder that all UCI registered teams must comply with the UCI Regulations and their contractual agreements with their riders at all times,” the UCI said in a statement to VeloNews. “In this regard, the team is currently being monitored by the UCI on a daily basis with the collaboration of the National Federation responsible for the registration of the team and the team itself to ensure that the applicable rules and procedures are complied with.

“Any breach of the UCI regulations will be sanctioned according to the provisions therein. Such sanctions could go from a warning to the withdrawal of the team’s registration.”

VeloNews has contacted Zaaf several times for comment but has not yet received a response.

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The team was due to ride the Vuelta Femenina next week, but the event organizer has confirmed to VeloNews that it has declined its invitation to the race. Last week, the organizer had stated that the Spanish team was still set to do the race.

“Zaaf declined the invitation. We only know this and we don’t know more about the future of the team. Twenty-three teams will start the race as we’re not inviting any other team,” a statement from the organizer to VeloNews said.

Since the end of March, seven of the 15 riders on the Zaaf roster have quit with four already finding new teams after the UCI made an exemption to its rules to allow an early-season transfer.

Rules specify that riders who are registered with a team for the current season can only transfer teams between June 1 and July 15, but this rule has been waived for riders leaving the Zaaf squad.

The team currently has just eight riders remaining, the minimum required by the UCI rules.

“The UCI has assessed requests from former members of ZAAF Cycling Team who have terminated their contract with the team to apply for registration with a new team,” the UCI wrote to VeloNews. “These requests have been assessed on a case-by-case basis. So far, several applications have been accepted based on manifest and compelling reasons for the termination of their contracts.”

Zaaf is registered as a Continental team, which means that its license application for a UCI license was overseen and approved by the Spanish federation (RFEC) under rules set out by the UCI in a 66-page document.

Among the rules, teams must have contracts with all of their riders, it must “demonstrate that it will be able to meet its financial obligations for the whole season,” and it must submit a bank guarantee that is either 15 percent of the total pay due or 20,000 Euros — whichever is higher. As part of this, it is required to send a detailed budget to the national federation where it is to be registered.

Continental teams must also have an adequate insurance policy that covers riders for accidents, sickness, and repatriation to their country of residence.

Following several months of no payments, former team rider Audrey Cordon-Ragot told VeloNews that riders were attempting to access the bank guarantee in order to cover the salaries that weren’t paid in the opening months of the year.

So far, there has been no confirmation that the bank guarantee has been used to pay riders.

In the case of Zaaf, it is the Spanish Federation that is in charge of the funds and can decide whether the guarantee can be drawn upon.

Claims for the bank guarantee must be accompanied by evidence from the applicant. From then, it can take at least a month before funds are released as the national federations must decide if it is valid or “manifestly unfounded.” It can take longer if the team contests the claims.

“We can tell you that the RFEC is in continuous contact and communication with the UCI, as well as with the riders and workers of the Zaaf team affected by this situation,” the RFEC told Velonews. “We cannot reveal details, but the RFEC is following all the action procedures established by the UCI for cases like this in order to give full legal guarantees to the different parties affected.”

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