Indignation mounts at Domina

There could be yet more work ahead for the sports lawyers as Domina Vacanze's team management and ri

There could be yet more work ahead for the sports lawyers as Domina Vacanze’s team management and ri

PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE What is going on at the Domina Vacanze team? Two weeks ago the Italian travel company secured a Pro Tour place having pulled its backing from current team manager Vincenzo Santoni and joined up with De Nardi supremo Gianluigi Stanga. However, according to Santoni and many of his riders, Domina Vacanze has not paid them since June and the subsequent dispute that has understandably blown up out of this situation is now threatening to lead all sides into court. Santoni’s indignation is aimed at Domina Vacanze boss Ernesto Preatoni, who seems to feel let down by his team, notably because of former world champion Mario Cipollini’s frequent abandons from races and the doping affair in which Domina riders Alessandro Galleti and Mario Scirea were implicated in during the Giro. Speaking to L’Equipe, Santoni referred to these issues as “just pretexts” and stated his commitment to recover the salaries owed to his riders, 16 of whom he has under contract in 2005, including Cipollini and climber Michele Scarponi. Cipollini wants to ride one more year, and with a Pro Tour team, a concession Santoni is willing to allow “on one condition: that he does not sign with Domina.” Santoni is hoping to continue in next season’s Continental Tour, the level below the Pro Tour, probably with the backing of Elitron, one of Domina Vacanze’s co-sponsors. Speaking at yesterday’s Milan-Turin semi-classic, Scarponi admitted he was having to get used to the idea that he could be riding for a team that won’t get access to many, if any, of the sport’s top races. “There is a chance for the Giro, but who can say that we will be one of the two teams picked for that,” he told L’Equipe rather morosely. Sergio Marinangeli summed up the feelings of several of his team-mates when he said: “In these conditions it is difficult to race, to stay focused, but this all combines to make us stronger characters and next year we will all be determined to show we are good riders and that we don’t deserve to ride for knock-down prices.” While the riders contemplate going to the Court for Arbitration in Sport to seek the money they are owed, Santoni is taking a more direct legal approach and is suing Preatoni for “cessation of payment”. Santoni concluded by saying: “The UCI speaks of ethics, of transparency, yet at the same time shows itself to be extremely conciliatory towards someone who has not fulfilled his commitments. I don’t understand that at all.”