The owners of the RadioShack-Nissan team, Luxembourg holding company Leopard SA, has hit back at rumors published in the German media that the squad has not been paying its star riders and is near collapse because of financial problems of owner Flavio Becca.
The Süddeutsche Zeitung today reported that Fabian Cancellara and Fränk and Andy Schleck have not been receiving regular paychecks, and that one of the riders has sued Leopard SA.
The UCI confirmed non-payment last month. Team spokesman Philippe Maertens said at the time,"They were looking for the reason that wages were delayed, and they found it.” The reason for that is “private. Nobody is talking about salary.”
The Luxembourg paper Tageblatt also picked up on the rumors, claiming that Leopard SA lost 7.6 million Euros this year and that Becca's ownership of the team's WorldTour license is in jeopardy. Becca was reported to be under investigation in Luxembourg for financial irregularities, and his home and office were searched last fall.
Leopard SA hit back at the news reports, calling them "malicious and unfounded rumours" and said it "formally denies any situation that could be interpreted as close to collapse or to bankruptcy".
It states that it anticipated in its business plan a significant financial loss in the first years of the project, and said its budget was on track as of the end of 2011. It also states that the UCI's auditors "did not only confirm the validity of the annual accounts, but also confirmed the capacity of the company to pursue its activities" but did not specify when this audit was completed.
Leopard spokesman Carlo Rock told Tageblatt that the rumors were probably started by the team's competitors in order to destabilize its spirit.