Trent Lowe’s story in three bullet points

Friday, 11 March 2011

Trent Lowe

Trent, can you explain your predicament in less than 100 words?

  • He’s after alleged unpaid wages and an apology from Slipstream Sports.
  • He had health problems and felt unsupported by his team. At one point he was sent to Dr Del Moral but didn’t know anything about his reputation.
  • He didn’t try to blackmail anyone. The claim was to get unpaid wages and bonuses and the €500,000 was mentioned as an indication of the suffering, health problems, lost potential earnings and more.

The spat between Trent Lowe apparently hasn’t exhausted every legal avenue but it’s certainly blow up into a public relations war with each side trading blows via quotes, statements and press releases.

The detailed chronology prepared by Lowe’s lawyers, the lengthy interview with NY Velocity and now a similar detailed chat with Cyclingtips go some way to putting facts and opinions into the public domain from Lowe’s side. Now I love detail, after all most of my posts on here are probably too long. But if I’m fascinated by all of this, I’m still confused.

I think he needs to put out a simple message. Without trying to taking sides, I thought I’d try and put Lowe’s message into three take-away bullet points. Apparently it was never a case of “pay us €500,000 or we embarrass you over the dodgy doctor“. Or at least that’s his claim and we’ll have to see if the Slipstream side has any response.

Finally, if you’re wondering whether any of this matters at all, it does. Any employee-employer dispute needs to be resolved properly but this one involves a high profile team, a suspicious doctor and more. It’s these important factors that cloud what is actually a simple dispute over seemingly unpaid wages.

Ronan March 11, 2011 at 2:58 pm

It’s also an interesting take from Lowe about how he perceives things went for him at Garmin. No matter whether what he says is true or not, the fact that Lowe’s putting this out there is a bit of a blot on the copybook of Saint Jonathan.

Touriste-Routier March 11, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Regardless of what the evidence is, or contracts state, this case screams settlement. I am surprised that JV hasn’t resolved this, as he allowed for Wiggins to break his contract in a sensible manner. The only ones who will win here are the attorneys. Sometimes the best game plan is to not play the game. But perhaps it is too late; it became public and ugly in a rapid manner. Seldom do saving face or threats lead to solid decision making.

beev March 11, 2011 at 4:01 pm

SS asked for a figure, and under the circumstances got a reasonable reply from TL’s advisor. They then opened an unjustified assault on TL and his advisors.

SS now seem to be very mule-like over this, digging their heels in. With such a control freak at the helm, if he can’t see that this situation could knock said capacity to control going forward, then everyone will get to watch the fallout of this unnecessary situation with interest.

I would say that on balance, SS have been transparently stupid over this.

The Inner Ring March 11, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Rowe, Touriste Routier and beev: in your comments I can see a consistent theme, that Vaughters and Slipstream are not as shiny as they like to appear.

Flashing Pedals March 11, 2011 at 6:08 pm

a cliche’ but sometimes to win, you must be prepared to lose…..

Jfjoeylu March 11, 2011 at 8:18 pm

as outlined a VERY high profile team is involved and I think JV handled it the only possible way. Just imagine the same information (about TL sent to Del Moral) becoming public AFTER those two had reached an agreement ? What would you think about it ? Perhaps it is definitely better to be seen a steel man rather than someone hiding potential doping practices….

Touriste-Routier March 11, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Actually, my comment was not stating that Slipstream are shiny or not, nor is it taking sides or placing blame. It was simply a matter of this is a huge distraction for the team, and a business decision should have been made. They are going to pay more than 1 months salary and past due bonuses in legal fees, not to mention time lost and negative PR. In business you need to pick your battles. Of course in hindsight, everything is clearer.

david b March 12, 2011 at 2:31 am

I know that the top riders have individual managers but would someone like TL be represented by a sports management organisation?

I continue to find it hard to believe that professional cyclists seem to do their own contract negotiations.

Abdu whereareyou March 12, 2011 at 4:31 am

Matt White hasn’t been heard from in all this, could it be he has been paid out with a confidentiality clause?…

Strangely quiet too is the UCI – Trent Lowe has indicated Vaughters’ Team Slipstream has breached several UCI regulations regarding checkups of it’s riders etc. Don’t UCI regs apply to Saint Jonathon?

@Jfjoeylu – if you mean the only way Vaughters could have handled this was to completely cock it up, crushing a 23 year old rider in the process, then you may be right.

Personally I think he could have handled it better, maybe by paying the wages of his riders, showing them a duty of care, even speaking to them more than once a year, not lying about not seeing their blood test when you have, and not waging a pathetic PR war on Twitter like a schoolgirl or subservient Cycling News smear pieces.

Sponsors should be very concerned at how Vaughters is acting here, in Australia the backlash against Garmin and Cervelo may already be starting..

The Inner Ring March 12, 2011 at 1:07 pm

This just seems to be a debate about a rider’s health and his employment. I’m sure there will be more to come but suspect some of the wilder stories around are way off the mark. Those looking for vast conspiracies are probably going to be disappointed.

Abdu whereareyou March 13, 2011 at 12:59 am

Agreed Mr Inner Ring…

The query I have is more about the handling of Trent when he was on the team (surely a constantly sick rider gets more, not less, attention?) and how he was implicated by Vaughters (with the doctor known for drugs) without even checking with the kid.

The one putting up conspiracy theories and innuendos seem to be Vaughters himself.

Can’t wait to see what the US Federal Investigatir Novitsky (?) says when/if he speaks to Vaughters about his time on US Postal alongside Armstrong and Landis…

Great blog by the way.

gilbert March 13, 2011 at 11:49 am

I think this is a very unclear story, a part from the personal and contractual side, i think should be important slipstream sport will give a clear statement of what happened for the sake of transparency.
for me the problem is less trent lowe who probably won’t race again in a top team, but even more matt white that is now the leading coach of australia, the most important cycling nation by now, and the biggest hope for the cleanness of the sport, as we saw in the recent years the prominent federations (italia france usa deutschland, not to talk of eastern countries and espana) being massively involved in the doping-ization of that sport.
some thoughts?

Alex March 14, 2011 at 12:12 am

If the guy is just after lost wages, what is the point of suing for €500,000 and indicating that he has information about UCI violations? That sounds like blackmail to me.

Don March 14, 2011 at 12:58 am

Your posts aren’t that long – no worries.

The Inner Ring March 14, 2011 at 8:26 am

Abdu whereareyou: we’ll see, I might follow up that point soon.

gilbert: it’s only a thought but there are many within cycling who have an ambiguous relationship with doping. It’s entirely possible for someone like White to send a rider to Del Moral for standard testing, whilst knowing that he’s done more that VO2 max tests in the past.

Alex: there’s wasn’t a claim for €500,000, that’s miles off. How do I put it? Imagine if Lowe had been healthy, then it’s possible that he’d be winning races or a key rider for the mountains, earning a good salary and enjoying life. Given that he’s not got any of this and his salary today is zero, I think the €500,000 figure was a total estimate of the earnings and a measure on the quality of life he has missed out on. That’s the way I’ve read it.

Don: ok, thanks! I still feel I could write tighter prose if I had the time.

Abdu whereareyou March 16, 2011 at 5:42 am

My last comment on this is a question – why didn’t Slipstream sack Svein Tuft as well?

Just like Trent Lowe, Svein Tuft attended the Pegasus training camp in Noosa and was photographed riding a Scott (the reason Vaughters gave for sacking Lowe).

Did Vaughters seriously sack Lowe for the unwritten (non-contractual and seemingly uknown) rule that a rider stays bonded to his master and has to seek permission to leave the table, sorry attend a training camp elsewhere?

Lowe or Hardie never suggested blackmail, if you read the email the Slipstream lawyer is badgering him for a $ figure to negotiate the issue out. Hardie’s words are very obvious, and Vaughters is either stupid or disingenious to suggest it was blackmail. I know what I think of JV after his conduct in this.

One thing Lowe has inadvertently pointed out later, however, is the number of UCI Regulations that Slipstream broke by not getting quarterly checks on its riders and submitting them to the UCI.

Don’t expect the UCI will investigate any time soon…

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