Transparency International

The Trent Lowe / Jonathan Vaughters Dispute – Some Background Facts

(Note for the avoidance of doubt I am not the author of this: Martin Hardie)

The Contract and Mr Lowe’s Health Issues

1)                 On or during August 2007, Mr Lowe, as the Rider, and Slipstream Sports LLC (“Slipstream Sports”), as the Employer, entered into a Rider Contract (“the Contract”), whereby Slipstream Sports would employ Mr Lowe as a road rider, under the terms set out in the Contract.

2)                 In July 2008, Mr Lowe was selected by Slipstream Sports to ride the 2008 Tour de France. Prior to the race commencing on 5 July 2008, on around 3 July 2008, Mr Lowe undertook a blood test (as a part of a health check required under the UCI obligatory medical monitoring programme mandated by the UCI Safety Regulations).

3)                 The results of the blood test indicated that Mr Lowe was unfit to race at that time. The blood test result was reported to the UCI as required by the relevant UCI medical monitoring procedure (UCI Abnormal Health Result Procedures).  Mr Lowe was, despite that test, still required by Slipstream Sports to take part in the race.  Before he rode the Tour, Mr Lowe was not given a physical examination by Slipstream Sports.

4)                 Following the conclusion of the 2008 Tour de France, Mr Lowe’s health began to deteriorate.

5)                 On around 12 December 2008, Mr Lowe and Slipstream Sports entered into a further contract (“the Second Contract”), on materially the same terms as the first Contract.

6)                 In 2009, Mr Lowe’s health continued to deteriorate. Mr Lowe was severely fatigued and suffering from various fevers, viral infections and chronic fatigue.

7)                 In April 2009, Mr Matthew White, then a sports director of Garmin Slipstream Sports (the then Slipstream Sports pro tour team) instructed Mr Lowe on behalf of Slipstream Sports that Slipstream Sports required Mr Lowe to undertake fitness tests upon his return to Valencia on 17 April 2009.

8)                 By email dated 16 April 2009, from Mr White to Mr Lowe, Mr White, on behalf of Slipstream Sports, referred Mr Lowe to Dr Del Moral, saying, so far as relevant, as follows:

His name is Luis Garcia Moral, we called him el Gato or el puto madre.
His telephone nu -mob -669XXXXXXX
The address is – Complejo Deportivo Cultural Petxina. Paseo de la
Petxina nu 42. Valencia

9)                 At no time did Mr Lowe request this referral.

10)              On 17 April 2009, Mr Lowe attended Dr Del Moral.

11)              Mr Lowe was unaware of Dr Del Moral or his professional reputation at the time that he visited him.

12)              On about 12 June 2009, Slipstream Sports informed their employees, by email, of its policy, dated 28 May 2009,  concerning the involvement of non-staff medical personnel during team events (“Team Event Policy”).

13)              Mr Lowe subsequently visited Dr Del Moral, for his third quarterly medical monitoring program health check-up, which included the UCI quarterly blood tests, and for testing for a number of things, including Epstein Barr disease, parasites and other parameters that the doctor felt relevant to the rider’s health.

14)              Mr Lowe kept Mr Vaughters fully informed of the results of his test and the doctor’s recommendations. By email dated 13 June 2009, from Mr Lowe to Mr Vaughters and copied to Mr White, Mr Lowe said as follows:

… I am waiting on some results from some tests that I have just done and have a few appointments here this week.  My sports doctor here agrees with your idea also that I likely have residual fatigue hanging over me.

I will keep you updated with the latest results and my plans.

15)              By email dated 13 June 2009, from Mr Vaughters to Mr Lowe, Mr Vaughters said, so far as relevant, as follows:

Other than the anemia (which isn’t really the case anymore) your blood tests are fine.  Honestly, your tests last year were more worrying.

16)              By email dated 18 June 2009, Mr Lowe sent a copy of his third quarter UCI test results to team doctor, Dr Prentice Steffen. The June 2009 health check was in conformity with the requirements of the third Quarterly Health check mandated by the UCI rules, in that it consisted of a sports medicine interview, a clinical medical examination and a blood test. At no stage did Dr Del Moral prescribe or discuss the use of prohibited substances or practices.

17)              By email dated 19 June 2009, Dr Steffen responded to Mr Lowes’ email dated 18 June 2009, commenting on the blood test results. Dr Steffen attached, to his email dated 19 June 2009, a copy of the blood test result reported on by Dr Del Moral.  Mr Vaughters was copied into this email. A copy of the blood test results with Dr Steffen’s handwritten annotations were placed on Mr Lowe’s medical files, which at that time, were held by Dr Steffen. Dr Del Moral’s name appears prominently on the test results directly below the handwritten annotation of Dr Steffen.

18)              The results of the blood test were abnormal within the parameters of the UCI Medical Monitoring Program.  In such cases, the UCI requires that the team re-perform the tests within a 10 day period.

19)              Subsequently, on 28 January 2010, Mr Lowe had another abnormal blood result.  On this occasion, Mr Lowe was instructed to, and did, undertake a subsequent blood test on or about 9 February 2010.  Both blood tests results were reported to the UCI in conformity with the relevant UCI medical monitoring procedure.

20)              There is no suggestion that any of the results of the above health test results were due to doping.

21)              During the years 2009 and 2010, Mr Lowe continuously suffered health problems. During that time, in relation to the health checks required by the obligatory medical monitoring programme:

  1. Paragraph 2.2: Mr Lowe never had a pulmonary function test with Slipstream Sports, although he was issued TUE’s on a 2007 test in years 2008 and 2009.
  2. Paragraph 3.1: Mr Lowe never had this urine stick test.
  3. Paragraph 3.2: Mr Lowe never had a clinical examination in this period, only ever blood, save for the examination in paragraph 22 below.
  4. Paragraph 3.3: The only years Mr Lowe did this with Slipstream Sports were the 2009 test with Dr Del Moral, and with Dr Steffen in June 2008, as described in paragraph 26 below.
  5. Paragraph 3.4: Mr Lowe never had this physical examination in his 3 years with the team.

22)              In the first year Mr Lowe joined the team, in 2008, Dr Steffen conducted the physical examination in January.  In each year, Mr Lowe did the required cardio testing stipulated by the UCI. The only physical examinations conducted, during this period (2008 – 2010) were by Dr Steffen in January 2008, and by Dr Del Moral in June 2009.

23)              The UCI Cycling Regulations, Part 13, provide, so far as relevant, as follows:

‘13.1.006 For the purposes stipulated in article 13.1.002, the Team shall set in place and implement a prevention and safety programme that includes at least the programme of required tests and the risk

prevention programme set out below.’

‘13.1.007 The Team Manager shall be responsible for the organisation and implementation of these programmes. The Team doctor shall be responsible for the medical aspects.’

‘13.1.008 The Team shall not oblige or allow any cyclist to participate in cycling events if he has been judged unfit by the Team doctor or if it learns in any other way that he is unfit.’

‘13.1.009 The Team and the Team doctor shall help the cyclist to seek medical assistance.’

‘13.1.010 Each Team shall appoint as its Team doctor one single doctor who holds a sports doctor’s licence.’

‘13.1.011 In the event that the Team doctor learns of any facts that in his view render the cyclist (even temporarily) unfit to participate in cycling events, he shall declare the cyclist unfit and shall inform the Team Manager. The duration of the period for which a rider shall be deemed unfit shall be determined by the Team doctor. This decision and the declaration of unfitness shall be made in writing and added to the rider’s medical file.’

‘13.1.013 Riders must undergo the medical tests listed in the “Programme of obligatory tests for UCI medical monitoring” drawn up by the Medical Commission (MC) and approved by the UCI President.

This programme will also set the procedures for the implementation of this section. The programme is obligatory for the parties concerned on the same basis as these regulations and is subject to the sanctions set out in the latter.

The programme and its amendments shall come into force as from the moment that the Teams are notified.’

‘13.1.014 The programme of obligatory test must include a check-up when a rider first joins a Team.  Subsequently, examinations are carried out every two years, every year and every quarter as shown in the table in the programme.’

‘13.1.015 Within the context of medical monitoring, each examination shall include a physical examination by a sports doctor and the specific examinations stipulated in the table in the programme.’

13.1.016 The examinations shall be carried out in such a way that their results are known and provide a basis for assessing the fitness of the cyclist before the end of the period in which they must be carried out.

13.1.017 The obligatory tests shall be carried out at the Teams’ expense.

24)              During the 3 years Mr Lowe was contracted to Slipstream Sports, and despite his health complaints, he raced in excess of 160 days competitive racing as follows:

Race days with Slipstream Sports:

2008     83

2009     53

2010      30

Total     166

25)              Between April 2010 and August 2010, , Mr Lowe emailed Mr Vaughters, several times, seeking to meet with him to discuss this and other matters relating to Mr Lowe’s health and future with Slipstream Sports.  Mr Vaughters and Mr Lowe did not meet.

26)              By email dated 19 April 2010, Mr Lowe gave Mr Vaughters a detailed description of his training/health status, so far as relevant, as follows:

Hi JV,

How are you?

I thought it would be appropriate to give you an update of what I have been up to the last six months with regards to my health, my training, and my mindset.

As you know, I struggled last season from what I believe to be chronic fatigue stemming largely from overtraining. It was a very challenging period for me, as an athlete and a regular guy. Turning this around, returning to health and, ultimately, being competitive at the highest level of the sport has been my primary focus for many months now.

I have been working very closely over the past while with a Canadian guy by the name of Rob Grace with my recovery and preparation. Since beginning this process we immediately saw a measurable improvement with my blood tests. Attached is a summary of these test and as you can see, my hemoglobin/hematocrit, testosterone have all improved significantly.

During this time my training and racing load has increased and at the same time, we have sustained the increased blood levels. This is a very positive trend. Last year my tests show a much reduced levels in my blood values. During this time my weight has been reduced by about 5kgs and my testosterone has increased and remained steady at that increase, which had not been the case for me in past.

If I relate this to my performance, this time last year I was unable to even finish races at the level I am racing at, let alone contribute the amount I have been to the teams success. Recovering from chronic fatigue is taking time. However, I feel the significant gains I’ve made in such a short space of time portend good things for the future. I have also learned that it is simply not just a matter of getting the blood tests looking so good. And perhaps why chronic fatigue is so poorly understood in the medical world. I am under no illusion that you expect and require a higher level of performance from me. And I expect that from myself also. I am learning this is a process and one that has forced me to mature as a rider and a person. I am doing everything I can to ensure that each day, I maximize the ability for me to recover and improve and be my best for the team and myself as a rider. If the process requires a slow boil, then that is what I must do.

In the long term what I am learning now by coming through this process will make me a far better athlete in the years ahead. I am highly motivated to have everything in perfect order as soon as I can. Hence me investing my own money on treatments, having Rob with me full time, and logging training days of up to 10hours of work a day (on and off bike combined) between races to continue building on this positive momentum.

I will continue my work with Rob and whilst in Europe he has been treating many riders on our team at their own expense. His skill set is beyond that of anyone I have ever worked with before. Should you be interested to know something about his methods please let me know. I highly recommend them.

I seem to hear plenty of criticism about my body weight, as I have stated I have lost a large amount of weight since seasons beginning.

Furthermore I have been working with various dieticians regarding this.

How I eat these days is significantly different for my body than it was before getting this illness. I have learned how eating can effect hormonal changes, sleep rhythms, optimize recovery, and other things like this. Getting skinny at this immediate time is not the goal.

Restoring maximum health and building form will bring on my optimal race weight. Give the trajectory I am on now, it is just a question of time.

My most recent skin fold test performed by the team physiologists showed I was approximately 1.6% body fat above the leanest racing ideal. I am close.

It is important to me that you understand and acknowledge how I am going about things this year. My motivation and dedication to this sport are unquestionable. JV, I want to be and am going to be a damn good bike rider. I appreciate your patience, your interest, and the help of the team during this time.

Hope all is well,

Trent

27)              By email dated 2 May 2010 from Mr Lowe to Mr Vaughters, Mr Lowe advised, so far as relevant, as follows:

Hey JV,

How are you?

I am in Denver now till the 23rd, please let me know if you would be interested in catching up.

Cheers,

Trent.

28)              Mr Vaughters did not reply to Mr Lowe’s email dated 2 May 2010.

29)              By email dated 27 May 2010 from Mr Lowe to Mr Vaughters, Mr Lowe advised, so far as relevant, as follows:

Hey JV,

I appreciate you must have a ton going on right now. I am around Denver till early next week, I would really like to meet up with you if there is any possibility. I can meet you where ever is most convenient.

Please let me know.

Cheers,

Trent

30)              Mr Vaughters did not reply to Mr Lowe’s email dated 27 May 2010.

31)              By email dated 1 August 2010 from Mr Lowe to Mr Vaughters, Mr Lowe advised, so far as relevant, as follows:

Hi JV,

>

> I am in Denver and would really like to meet up if you are around?

> I can meet you where ever is easiest.

>

> Please let me know if you are about.

>

> Trent.

32)              By email dated 3 August 2010, from Mr Vaughters to Mr Lowe, Mr Vaughters responded, so far as relevant, as follows:

Trent,

Yeah, I am here until the 10th of September. I should be more

available after the 11th of August.

JV

33)              Despite, however, Mr Vaughters’ response in his email dated 3 August 2010, Mr Lowe’s subsequent telephone calls to attempt to set up a meeting were ignored by Mr Vaughters.

34)              By email dated 20 August 2010, from Mr Lowe to Mr Vaughters, in accordance with Article 2 of the Contract, Mr Lowe had informed Slipstream Sports of his intention to ride with another team in 2011.  Mr Lowe advised, so far as relevant, as follows:

Hi Jonathan,

I apologize for hounding you with emails and calls to meet up, but as you know, I am in the final year of my contract with Slipstream Sports.  We are here in late August and I feel I cannot wait any longer.  After much thought and consideration, I have decided to ride for another team next year.  This is an opportunity that I am extremely excited about and is, I believe, a fantastic step in the right direction for my career.

I would have preferred to discuss my career with you in person, and again, I apologize for dropping a bomb on you in such an impersonal manner, but I believe that waiting any longer would be unfair to the team that has been so good to me.  If I haven’t said it before, let me reiterate that it has been a pleasure working with you and your organization for the past three years.  Things have really come a long way in a short amount of time and I hope that I had something to do with that success.

As an aside, we have known each other over five years and I consider you not only a boss, but a mentor and friend.  If you have any interest at all, I would like to meet you for lunch, tea, or a glass of wine.  You name the time and place, I’ll be there.  And I’ll buy!

Thanks for everything.

Talk soon,

Trent

35)              Mr Vaughters did not reply to this email.


The Contract Payment Dispute:

36)              In or around November 2010, Mr Lowe attended a training camp for a cycling team management company Pegasus Sports. At that time Pegasus Sports had no title sponsor for its cycling team.  At the time of his attendance at the camp he appeared at all times in his Garmin Transitions clothing.  Mr Lowe did not advertise or authorise any advertising by him for any cycling sponsor at the Pegasus training camp. At no time has Mr Lowe ever been paid by Pegasus.

37)              Mr Lowe’s contract with Slipstream Sports was due to expire on 31 December 2010.  At no time between his attendance at the Pegasus training camp and the end of his contract, did anyone at Slipstream Sports ever raise with him any possible breach, or termination of his contract with Slipstream Sports.

38)              In accordance with Article 3 of the Contract, Mr Lowe’s remuneration for December was due on 31 December 2010.

39)              On or around 4 January 2011, Mr Lowe had not received his remuneration for the month of December 2010, including payment of the bonuses earned by him in 2010.  By email dated 4 January 2011, from Mr Lowe to Mr Vaughters, Mr Lowe said, so far as relevant, as follows:

I am writing to inform you that I have not been paid for the month of December 2010. Furthermore owing to me is the provision of 2,000USD in bonuses earned at the Vuelta a Murcia. Can these please be paid with my final paycheck without delay?

40)              By email dated 4 January 2011, from Mr Vaughters to Mr Lowe, Mr Vaughters responded, so far as relevant, as follows:

I’m sorry to inform you, but you were photographed riding non-sponsor equipment at another team’s training camp, without written permission from any representative of our team; therefore your contract has been terminated.
I don’t like ending things this way, but I feel that my softness on these topics has lead to abuses of my generosity. Sorry again and best of luck with your new projects.

The Contract had expired on 31 December 2010. By the above email, in substance, Mr Vaughters was asserting that Slipstream Sports had terminated the Contract, without any prior notice of default, after the Contract had already expired, on the grounds that Mr Lowe had attended a training camp in November 2010 without Slipstream Sports’ permission, and that this was a breach sufficient to entitle Slipstream Sports to terminate Mr Lowe’s employment under the Contract. Mr Lowe says that Slipstream Sports had no entitlement to terminate the Second Contract in this manner, or for those reasons, or at all.  This was the first substantive communication from Mr Vaughters to Mr Lowe since Mr Lowe’s attempts to contact Mr Vaughters in April 2010.

41)              By email dated 6 January 2011, from Mr Lowe to Mr Vaughters, Mr Lowe said, so far as relevant, as follows:

The main reason I signed up to ride for Slipstream Sports in the beginning was their position against anti-doping, and how this could support my career in my personal quest for clean cycling.  It was very disappointing when team management sent me to such a questionable doctor for unknown means of preparation, less than 18 months into my time with the team. As soon as I understood what was going on here I could not distance myself enough, for my personal benefit and that of the team. We both know the falling out I had with Whitey over this, and we both know that I have never doped.


I have kept my end of the deal and kept this stuff quiet and out of the public eye. I would expect that you keep your end of the deal here and pay my salary and bonuses. I would be happy to speak with you directly, lets sort this out. Please send me your contact phone number if you wish to speak.

42)              By email dated 8 January 2011, from Mr Vaughters to Mr Lowe, Mr Vaughters responded to the above email so far as relevant, as follows:

One, you never told me about this, and now you are using this to blackmail me, despite the fact that YOU WILLING BROKE YOUR CONTRACT.
Two, think about how ethical you are being here.  This is 18 months ago, and you never said a word to me.  Now that you find that you broke your contract, you dig this up.  I am disappointed you didn’t say something to me, as I would not have wanted this.  Did you see Luis? Did you see him when you were on Discovery.

You went to this Doctor.  Did he recommend EPO, or did he just do a blood test, because we needed one done to try and figure out what was wrong with you?

Let me know what exactly happened, and I will deal with the situation from there.

43)              In a further email, on the same day, 8 January 2011, from Jim Barlow, Vice President of Finance, Slipstream Sports Sport, to Mr Lowe, Mr Barlow advised, so far as relevant, as follows:

The $2,000 USD Bonus you earned in 2010 will be paid with our January, 2011 Rider Payroll.  This will constitute the final payment from Slipstream Sports to you.

No payment was received.

44)              Following the exchange of emails between Mr Lowe and Mr Vaughters, Martin Hardie, an adviser to Mr Lowe, spoke with Mr Vaughters on behalf of Mr Lowe.

45)              On or around 12 January 2011, Mr Hardie, during a phone conversation with Mr Vaughters, denied to Mr Vaughters that Mr Lowe was intending to blackmail Mr Vaughters or Slipstream Sports, and any belief Mr Vaughters had to that effect was misconceived.

46)              On 12 January 2011, at the request of Mr Vaughters and Mr Lowe, Mr Hardie wrote by email on Mr Lowe’s behalf to Slipstream Sport’s legal adviser, Mr Matthew Pace (of Herrick Feinstein LLP), saying, so far as relevant, as follows: :

Matthew Pace
Counsel
Herrick, Feinstein LLP
New  York

Dear Matthew

I am writing on  behalf of Trent  Lowe at the request of Jonathon  Vaughters.

Trent recently wrote to Jonathon seeking payment of his salary for the month of December 2010.  Jonathon has refused to pay Trent on the alleged basis that he willingly broke his contract with Garmin by allowing his image to be used to promote equipment   other than that approved by Garmin.

This appears to be the core issue. The alleged breach concerns the fact that Trent attended a training camp for his new team, Pegasus, in Australia in December 2010.  Pegasus is a pro cycling team management company and not a sponsor.

Firstly, some background. Trent informed Jonathan that he had signed for a new team for 2011 in August 2010. I also corresponded with Jonathon by email about this in or about September 2010. In that email advised Jonathon that I had put Trent in contact with the new team. Jonathon informed me that he had no problems with this as he would have had difficulties retaining all  of the riders on his 2010 roster as a result of the merger with  Cervelo.

Secondly, in relation to the training camp and the  alleged  breach, I can inform you firstly that there are no photos of  Trent publicly  available, nor did Trent or anyone else authorise any  photos of him to be made  publicly available in which his image was  used to promote non Garmin sponsored  equipment.  At the training camp in question Pegasus did not give permission for any media outlets to take photos of the team, its2011 riders or its 2011 equipment. In fact I understand from the team management that they insisted that no photos be taken at the training camp so as not to  cause any  problems for riders during the period in which they were still  officially contracted with other teams. There are photos of the Pegasus training camp on cyclingnews.com. These photos were not authorised to be used for publication by Trent or by Pegasus. In any event in none of these photos does Trent appear in non Garmin sponsored equipment. In fact he appears only in a Garmin jersey. That is the only image appearing of Trent in relation to  the training camp  actually promotes Garmin and no other company. This image is available for you to view here: http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/photos/pegasus-prepares-for-season-2011/149961

Thirdly,  Trent attended the training camp as a volunteer in order to train with  other  riders, who were all contracted to teams other than Pegasus at  the time, and  who all wore clothing provided by the teams that they  were contracted to at  that time. This was obviously done in order to respect the riders’ existing contractual obligations. His contract with Pegasus began on 1 January 2011.   Thus there is no question of Trent working for any other team during December 2010.

Jonathan has raised with me issues relating to   Trent’s performance during the time he was contracted to Garmin. I do not believe that these issues are related to the issue of the outstanding payment.  However, if we cannot resolve this issue on the basis set out above, we are happy to put the issues concerning Trent’s performance, his health and the management of those things by Garmin  on the table for debate. However, if this was to happen we do not think this would be to the advantage of Garmin.

Jonathan has alleged that Garmin terminated Trent’s contract on the basis of the allegations set out above. Clearly notice of this termination (if in fact this is the case) should have been given to Trent.  This was never done. In these circumstances there is no basis for Garmin not to pay Trent.

At the present time Garmin has not paid Trent his   salary for December 2010, the portion owing on his outstanding bonuses for  2009, and various expenses for his attendance at a charity event  in September  2010. Trent seeks immediate payment in full of all these   items.

In all of the circumstances set out above Trent is willing to waive his right to receive interest under the CPA/AIGCP  agreement approved  by the UCI on the late payment of his salary for  the month of December only on  the basis that Garmin undertakes  immediately to make that payment within 7  days.

Failing  that Trent will have to consider what other legal  options are open to  him in relation to the breach of contract by Garmin in  respect of his  salary and the other obligations owed  by Garmin to him  under his  contract.

I look forward to resolving this matter with  you without further delay.

47)              Following this letter dated 12 January 2011, on about 14 January 2011, Mr Hardie had a telephone discussion with Mr Pace which was subsequently followed by further email correspondence.  Mr Hardie and Mr Pace discussed a number of issues, including the circumstances of the Pegasus training camp, the contractual provisions said to have been breached by Mr Lowe, and including potential causes of action relating Mr Lowe’s health issues, and Slipstream Sports’ management of Mr Lowe’s health and medical treatment.  Mr Pace advised Mr Hardie that he would seek instructions in relation to the outstanding wages and bonuses.

48)              By email dated 19 January 2011, Mr Pace advised Mr Hardie, so far as relevant, as follows:

I am just following up to see if you were able to find sometime for  me to talk to Trent.  Please advise.  Thanks.

49)              By email dated 19 January 2011, Mr Hardie replied to Mr Pace, so far as relevant, as follows:

I just got into the office and was going to write to you.

As I have said I need to sit Trent down first and go through things with him. I have made this clear to Jonathan. I should be able to do that when I get back from Adelaide next week. I also spoke to Trent about this today and told him that we should do this next week as a priority.

However having said all this, Trent is increasingly frustrated by the outstanding payment issue. We need to keep this separate and I don´t want you to use him talking to you as leverage in relation to that. I have made it clear to Jonathan and to you that we do not believe he has breached his contract. The best you could argue is that he advertised for Pegasus by attending their training camp. But Pegasus is not a sponsor but a management company. Hence you are bound to fail on that argument. I would like you to get instructions today and undertake to pay Trent his outstanding salary immediately. That way I can get him feeling more positive about sitting down and talking and we can all cooperate on the others issues.

Can we resolve this today?

50)              By email dated 20 January 2011, Mr Hardie advised Mr Vaughters, so far as relevant, as follows:

I am trying to be open and honest with you.
I am also trying to keep Trent from blowing his lid and going public. I have made it fucking clear as to when and how he will talk to you. Just tell me now if you will pay him or not and when. If not I will let him do what he likes and you can deal with that without me helping. It is really quite fucking simple. I don’t know why you are being such a scrooge about paying him.

… As I said I am being open with you but stop making excuses re paying Trent and then maybe you will get some cooperation.

51)              By email dated 20 January 2011, Mr Hardie advised Mr Pace, so far as relevant, as follows:

You were going to get back to me this week with an offer.

If you are not using the interview issue as leverage on the contract issue please stop stalling on the contract and insisting on an interview before I have even gone through it with him.

Would you seriously advise your client to be interviewed without going through the issues with them first?

I suspect if the breach of contract by garmin is not resolved this week you will find that trent will be instructing lawyers to sue.

Do you think this will be useful to your client?

To reiterate you undertook to make an offer last week. You have not done that. Trent wants to be paid. Some good will would go a long way.

52)              By email dated 22 January 2011, Mr Hardie advised Mr Pace, so far as relevant, as follows:

I have just been told jv is issuing a press release regarding trent on sunday.

Can you confirm this?

This will obviously change the situation

53)              By email dated 22 January 2011, Mr Pace advised Mr Hardie, so far as relevant, as follows:

No I cannot confirm this.  I do not know what you are talking about.  Sorry.

54)              On 23 January 2011, in a press release, Slipstream Sports said, publicly, as follows:

It has just come to the attention of Slipstream Sports’ board of doctors that in April 2009, Mr White referred former rider, Trent Lowe, to Sports Institute of Valencia to Dr Luis Garcia Del Moral
Slipstream Sports has an explicit internal policy that all medical referrals are approved by our medical staff.  In this instance, this vital rule was broken, as a result, the board of Directors has dismissed Matt White.
We want to make it clear that we are parting ways for one reason and one reason only, because this vital rule was broken.

55)              By email dated 23 January 2011, Mr Hardie advised Mr Pace, so far as relevant, as follows:

I have consulted Trent on your offer. He is not prepared to accept your offer as once he has calculated bonuses it is about $15000 below what is owed to him.

If you are [not] in [sic] willing to settle this we will instruct lawyers to prepare an action for this breach and the other matters I have previously  raised with you regarding Trent’s health.

I am sorry that it might come to this.

56)              In an interview on the Bicycling website, on 23 January 2011, Mr Vaughters is reported as saying, so far as relevant, as follows: :

I learned of the event about 10 days ago and flew into Australia to tell Matthew directly he was being released”….
We made a promise to all our riders and to the world when we started this team.  We live, every day, by the standards we have set for ourselves.  We cannot allow this vital team rule to be broken.

In that report, Bicycling says that Mr Vaughters had:

…… learned of the move from Lowe.

57)              Subsequently, Mr Vaughters has been quoted on other websites, including Cycling Weekly, Velonation.com, VeloNews, Cyclingnews and other web-based sport sites. On the Velonation website, Mr Vaughters was quoted as saying:

I don’t know why Trent Lowe decided to bring this up after so many months, you’ll have to ask him that.  In fact he never told me directly he emailed me and said it. I haven’t actually been able to speak with him because he won’t answer his phone.

58)              By email dated 24 January 2011, Mr Hardie advised Mr Pace, so far as relevant, as follows:

‘Sorry Matt if jv keeps tweeting it will get worse

Tell him I’m in the bar downstairs if he wants to talk’

59)              By email dated 24 January 2011, Mr Pace responded to Mr Hardie, so far as relevant, as follows:

‘My client does not want to talk to u.

We will not pay 15.

What number will ur client accept?’

60)              By email dated 24 January 2011, marked “Without Prejudice”, from Mr Hardie to Mr Pace, Mr Hardie, said, so far as relevant, as follows:

Dear Matthew

24 January 2011

Re: Trent Lowe v Slipstream Sports

WITHOUT PREJUDICE

I am writing to you as Trent’s personal advisor in this matter.  I have stopped in a town between my home and Adelaide in order to do this.

As I have stated previously I have informed both you and Mr Vaughters that I would meet with Trent Lowe this week to go through the issues with him in detail before providing you the details or allowing you to interview him.

We note that Mr Vaughters is continuing to make public statements that misrepresent Trent’s position in relation to this.

We also note that you have dismissed Matt White on the alleged basis that he referred Trent to Dr Del Moral without the authorisation of the team Doctor of Slipstream Sports, Dr Prentice Steffen.

We also with to note that we have already raised issues with you relating to Slipstream Sports duty to protect Trent’s health under his contract. Slipstream Sports also has obligations under the relevant  UCI rules in relation to this.

Given the haste with which you have proceeded Trent proceeded this morning  to review all of the documents relevant to the matters we have been discussing in order that he is fully prepared to go through all of the relevant details with me.

In doing so we have noted that both Mr Vaughters and Dr Steffen had knowledge of Trent’s visit to Dr Del Moral for a blood test in June 2009. We also note that Dr Prentice authorised that visit for the purposes of the blood test. Both client Mr Vaughters and Dr Steffen have the same documents in their possession. We note that Mr Vaughters has refrained from mentioning the blood test in the media.

We believe this raises significant issues.

This morning I spoke with Counsel in Melbourne Victoria and intend tomorrow to instruct solicitors to instruct Counsel to commence drawing a Statement of Claim to be filed in the Supreme Court of Victoria against Slipstream Sports.

We have also had discussions with Counsel regarding the issues we have previously discussed with you and mentioned above as well as those set out below.

As a result of those discussions and the documents Trent has reviewed with me to date we believe there is a basis for Trent to commence an action against Slipstream Sports inter alia on the following grounds:

1. Breach of Contract in respect of the unlawful termination of Trent’s contract and the non payment of wages and bonuses owing to him;

2. Breach of Slipstream Sports’ duty to protect  and respect Trent’s health under his contract and the UCI rules;

3. Breach of fiduciary duty owed by Slipstream Sports to Trent;

4. Negligence on the part of Slipstream Sports and Dr Steffen in respect of the above mentioned duty and the management of his blood testing results;

5. Breach of confidence by Slipstream Sports and Mr Vaughters;

6. Defamation by Mr Vaughters in respect of media and twitter statements he has made in the last 24 hours.

In all of the circumstances we believe these matters raise significant issues which will give rise to a substantial sum of damages and compensation in the Victorian Supreme Court’s equitable and common law jurisdictions.

We wish to make it clear that to date we have refrained fro making any public comment on this matter. One reason for that is that we do not wish to jeopardise the jobs and careers of Trent fellow professional cyclists.

Furthermore we are concerned to ensure that any outcome should be productive  both for cycling, Trent’s former team mates and serious anti-doping action.

Obviously we are of the view that Slipstream Sports’ actions in respect of their duty to respect and protect Trent’s health over the time he has been with the team has had an affect on his results during that time. We are also of the view that the manner in which this matter has been handled by Slipstream Sports in recent days has seriously compromised Trent’s future career prospects.

We reiterate that we had stated to you and Mr Vaughters on a number of occasions that we would provide you details of all the matters concerning this situation during the course of this week.

Given our desire to not allow further damage to be caused to cycling or to Trent or possibly Trent’s former team mates we are still willing to discuss these matters with you in a realistic and meaningful manner in order to achieve a just outcome for Trent, the other riders, the team and for the anti-doping movement.

I look forward to discussing this matter with you as soon as possible.

Regards

Martin Hardie

61)              By email dated 24 January 2011, Mr Pace responded to Mr Hardie, so far as relevant, as follows:

Martin

I made u a reasonable offer yesterday.  Your response was unreasonable.  We will not engage in the type of negotiations that you are proposing.  If you want to resolve the breach of contract issue respond to me with a number below $15k as I said yesterday and we will continue to negotiate,  Otherwise, we have nothing further to discuss.  You should be aware that we will protect ourselves to the fullest extent of the law against you and Trent for any false and slanderous statements made by either and both of you.

62)              By further email dated 24 January 2011, Mr Pace advised Mr Hardie, so far as relevant, as follows:

‘What offer to negotiate?  You are not negotiating…only threatening.  We do not negotiate like that.  What is your offer?  Our last offer was [subject to without prejudice privilege] Please advise.’

63)              By email dated 24 January 2011, Mr Hardie responded to Mr Pace, so far as relevant, as follows:

‘How do I put a figure on Trent’s career? That will take time and serious negotiations.   …

We need to agree that you immediately stop the media comments  … the more this is played out in the media it only multiplies exponentially.’

64)              By email dated 24 January 2011, Mr Pace advised Mr Hardie, so far as relevant, as follows:

‘What proposal have you made for resolving this?’

65)              By email dated 24 January 2011, Mr Hardie advised Mr Pace, so far as relevant, as follows:

That you stop talking publicly, that I examine the documents and interview trent and then we meet to discuss a resolution.

66)              After a further exchange of emails, by email dated 24 January 2011, Mr Hardie advised Mr Pace, so far as relevant, as follows:

I am trying to salvage this mess and Trent’s career. Jonathan has damaged it severely with the way this has been handled.  I cannot let this carry on.  We asked for time to sit down and do this properly.  Slipstream couldn’t wait and now have created a disaster for everyone.

I would like to get a plan of action in place as soon as possible.

67)              By email dated 24 January 2011, Mr Pace advised Mr Hardie, so far as relevant, as follows:

I have spoken to my client.  They are still open to resolving the breach of contract issue between Trent and Slipstream Sports.  I would be happy to talk to you tomorrow to resolve this issue.  Please let me know a time that works for you to talk.

If you would like to resolve this before then, I suggest that you provide me with a dollar amount and any other terms under which your client is comfortable settling the matter and we will respond accordingly.

68)              By email dated 25 January 2011 from Mr Hardie to Mr Pace, Mr Hardie again set out Mr Lowe’s position, saying, so far as relevant, as follows:

To reiterate our position we believe we have grounds to commence an action on the following and any other relevant basis:

1. Breach of Contract in respect of the unlawful termination of Trent’s contract and the non payment of wages and bonuses owing to him;

2. Breach of Slipstream Sports’ duty to protect and respect Trent’s health under his contract and the UCI rules;

3. Breach of fiduciary duty owed by Slipstream Sports to Trent;

4. Negligence on the part of Slipstream Sports and Dr Steffen in respect of the above mentioned duty and the management of his blood testing results;

5. Breach of confidence by Slipstream Sports and Mr Vaughters;

6. Defamation by Mr Vaughters in respect of media and twitter statements he has made since Sunday 22 January 20

We note your offer to settle the breach of contract issue.

As previously advised we cannot just pull a figure out of the air. However, without even going into 2- 4 above your clients actions since Sunday have had a severe impact upon Trent’s career prospects.

Having said that if you are serious in settling this matter we would require at least a public apology to be made by Slipstream Sports to Trent along with an acknowledgement of the fact that Slipstream Sports has had documents in its possession since June 2009 giving them notice of Trent’s consultations with Dr Del Moral. We would require that statement to be made this week to put an end to the damage being caused to Trent’s reputation. Of course we would require the right to approve or reject the terms of that apology and statement.

We would also require an undertaking by Slipstream Sports to enter into proper and serious negotiations concerning an agreement to pay a reasonable sum in compensation of the above mentioned claims. We would envisage that such a settlement to be paid to Trent of which he would donate a portion to a charity of his choice. If I was forced to pull a figure out of the air I could not envisage it being less than 500,000 Euros.

However, in order for us to nominate a figure we would require a reasonable amount of time to properly anaylse all the relevant documents and to seek advise from our Counsel and expert consultants in relation to the abovementioned claims.

We would expect that we agree upon these terms by 6 pm Wednesday 26 January Melbourne time.

Failing that Trent will take the necessary steps to protect his reputation by making a public statement in relation to Slipstream Sports’ knowledge of Trent’s consultation with Dr Del Moral in June 2009 and his expressed willingness to allow you to interview him this week in relation to all of the events concerning his visits to Dr Del Moral. Along with that he will also instruct lawyers to prepare proceedings against Slipstream Sports in relation to the abovementioned matters.

I am happy to discuss this matter with you tomorrow.

69)              In a press release dated 26 January 2011, Slipstream Sports said, publicly, as follows:

We have been in discussions with Trent Lowe and his advisor regarding the possible settlement of a proposed breach of contract threatened by Trent in connection with his rider agreement with Slipstream Sports (which expired on December 31, 2010). In the course of these negotiations, on January 24, 2011, Trent, through his advisor, made it known that there was new information relating to Dr. Luis Garcia Del Moral. At this time they threatened to publicly expose certain information relating to Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral unless Slipstream Sports acceded to their demands, which included a payment of €500,000 to Trent.

Upon receiving this new information we immediately conducted an internal investigation and found a PDF attachment to an email sent by Trent to Slipstream Sports team doctor, Dr. Prentice Steffen, copying Jonathan Vaughters in June 2009. The PDF attachment was a copy of Trent’s UCI quarterly health check blood test conducted in June 2009 and it contained the name of Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral in the letterhead of the results. Neither Dr. Steffen nor Jonathan Vaughters noticed del Moral’s name on the letterhead in June 2009 and, at the time, neither Dr. Steffen nor Vaughters were aware that Trent had visited del Moral. In fact, Slipstream Sports was not made aware of any interaction with del Moral until Trent disclosed the information on January 6, 2011. The test results were forwarded to the UCI, as is protocol with quarterly health checks.

It is critical to note that this blood test was a 3rd quarter UCI health check test, a procedure mandated by the UCI to ensure the health of the riders, and not an anti-doping measure. This health check has nothing to do with the biological passport or ASDI. UCI health check blood tests may be done at any laboratory of the rider’s volition and do not have to follow any of the handling guidelines that anti-doping tests must.

The PDF was not discovered in our original investigation as that investigation was focused on the referral made by Matt White. It is also important to note that blood tests in Spain do not require an order or attendance from a physician and that there does not seem to be any violation of team policy by Trent Lowe in connection with the performance of the mandated UCI blood tests. The only violation in team policy was the separate issue of the referral, which Slipstream Sports addressed on January 23, 2011

Slipstream Sports is committed to putting processes in place that help underscore our values and as a result we have put a new policy in place for UCI quarterly health checks, effective immediately.

We are sharing all of this information in the interest of transparency. We welcome additional information from Trent and will act accordingly, as we have throughout this process, if and when he decides to provide it.
Following are details of the timeline surrounding Slipstream Sports and Trent Lowe:

January 6, 2011: Trent Lowe emailed Jonathan Vaughters regarding a contract dispute surrounding December 2010 payment. It is Slipstream Sports’s position that Lowe violated the terms of his contract with Slipstream Sports and, as a result, Slipstream Sports did not pay him the remaining installment of salary and bonuses due under his contract for December 2010.

In that email, Trent also stated that Matt White had referred him to Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral, which was the first time that Slipstream Sports became aware that Trent had been referred to del Moral.

Jonathan Vaughters immediately responded to Trent asking him for details about the situation which Trent did not respond to.

Several attempts were made by Slipstream Sports to reach Trent both directly and through his advisor, Martin Hardie, to obtain information about the referral and neither opted to provide that information.

Simultaneously, Slipstream Sports also continued to try to settle the breach of contract dispute, but to this date a settlement has not been reached. Slipstream Sports has consistently maintained that the contract issue was and is entirely separate from the referral issue.

Slipstream Sports investigated the referral claim, which ultimately resulted in White’s dismissal on January 23.

January 24, 2011: Trent Lowe’s advisor, Martin Hardie, contacted Slipstream Sports claiming to have a new communication between de Moral and the Slipstream Sports organization.

The details concerning this are discussed above.

Again, we are sharing all of this information in the interest of transparency. We welcome additional information from Trent and will act accordingly, as we have throughout this process, if and when he decides to provide it.

70)              On or around 26 January 2011, Mr Vaughters is reported to have made, in an interview with James Startt of Bicycling.com, among other things, the following statements about Mr Lowe and Mr Hardie:

1. ‘I wouldn’t say it’s not blackmail.’

2. (Mr Lowe had) ‘probably raced 30 days in the last two years’

3. ‘It was made clear to us by his representative he was requiring 500,000 euros or they would come forward with information that would show that (Garmin team doctor) Prentice Steffen and myself were aware of this rider’s relationship with Dr. Del Moral.’

4. And actually Trent has never answered the question whether he saw Del Moral or not.

71)              On 27 January 2011, Mr Hardie, released the following statement to the press:

We note the material in the press relating to Trent Lowe. We note that this material is factually inaccurate and we reject the allegations made.  We will make a further statement after we have had an opportunity to discuss these matters further with Slipstream Sports.  We look forward to resolving these issues as soon as possible without any further damage being done to cycling and peoples careers and reputations.

Summary

In summary:

1. Mr Lowe has, at no time, made any demand for payment other than for payment of his contract remuneration.

2. In his email dated 6 January 2011, Mr Lowe was demanding only his December payment, (withheld by Mr Vaughters on a disputed basis), and referring to his past loyalty to the team, and asking that he and Mr Vaughters sort out the dispute (on the December payment).

3. The reference to 500,000 Euros in the letter dated 25 January 2011 from Mr Lowe’s adviser to Slipstream Sports’ legal adviser, was a (without prejudice) estimate by Mr Lowe’s adviser, made at the request of Slipstream Sports’ legal adviser, as to the extent of Mr Lowe’s claims against Slipstream Sports, set out in paragraphs 1-6 of the letter dated 25 January 2011 (relating to issues of health, medical management, defamation, and other matters, listed in that letter).

4. Mr Lowe’s claim in the letter dated 25 January 2011 was for a public apology and a public acknowledgement that Slipstream Sports had in fact had knowledge of the visit since June 2009 and that they agree a procedure by which a fair sum could be agreed to compensate Mr Lowe for his losses in respect of the issues mentioned in the preceding sub paragraph. No demand for payment was made by Mr Lowe or Mr Hardie in return for the non disclosure of any facts or information.

 

We share this in the interests of transparency.

 

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Comments

  1. Mary Westmacott March 5, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Well thats a long read but well worth it feel, we should all keep up to date with these issues as they affect all of us in the end.I would be very interested to see how this all goes in the future. Thanks for posting this, back for more soon. x

  2. McCabe March 6, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Well done. One would hope Mr Lowe is the not one of the last riders at Slipstream to sign up in good faith up for what was apparently a new approach to dealing with the ‘problem’ in professional cycling. Now a much bigger team, winning a lot more than when they originally set out and winning big races with new riders you can only have doubts. My guess is a he is a rider with talent but perhaps is prone to overtraining a lot (10 hours a day and still recovering from chronic fatigue) and between that and racing obligations ran himself into the ground.

  3. JoeP March 10, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Wow. Interested to know if this is resolved favorably on behalf of the rider. Cycling is such a Mickey Mouse sport and it would be laughable were it not someone’s life to see the manner in which T.L. was abused by SS.

  4. Wiz March 14, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    This sad and acrimonius story makes me really wonder about the wisdom of having our young talented Australian riders go for their dreams. How shattering this must be for Trent. I can only hope this is an exception and most riders experience much better team support and guidance.

  5. A Steele March 30, 2011 at 12:33 am

    The stench of the american arrogance makes me feel nauseas! Good on Trent for taking a stance and sticking to his guns, he hasn’t deserved this treatment. The big teams walk all over these riders because individually they have no strength. Good on Martin Handle for supporting Trent too!

    Pretty sure I heard that allegedly Dr Del Moral was the Team doctor in US Postal during the time Vaughters not only rode in the team but set a record up Mont Ventoux.

  6. Stegger April 29, 2011 at 6:09 am

    Thank you very much for posting!!! Great to read the other side of the story as opposed to the online JV outrage.

  7. B0yd October 3, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    This kid seems like a genuine, nice kid, and he was spat upon and spat out, by people who owed him better
    Very sad

  8. Skippy October 4, 2012 at 5:36 am

    Came across this in Cyclingnews Forum ” Clinic ” today !

    What has happened since ?

    Rode with Trent on the training thursday of the Giro d’Italia at Pescaro some years ago ! Not seen much of him since , hope he has a good team for 2013 !

    JV seems to be spending a lot of time answering questions on the ” Clinic ” lately , perhaps he can advise that Trent received fair treatment for the stress and aggro offered .

    Wonder how JV has settled the situation with ” Whitey “, another example of JV & team’s muddled handling of this situation !

    Meanwhile the ” Paul Kimmage Defence Fund ” is above $50000 with 1600+ contributors