Downhill World Cup champion Aaron Gwin sought to clarify his move from Trek World Racing to Specialized in a statement released Wednesday night, asserting unequivocally that he “did not breach any contract” with his former team.
A statement released on Tuesday by the company behind Trek World Racing, 23 Degrees, initially claimed that Gwin had abandoned the team shortly before the UCI’s roster submission deadline “in complete disregard of his contractual obligations.” The statement also threatened recourse against Gwin through “all options open to us,” including legal action.
A correction was later issued by 23 Degrees identifying the document signed in mid-August, originally dubbed a contract, as a “legally binding letter of intent,” not a formal contract.
“Despite the fact that on August 9 of last year, Aaron Gwin signed a legally binding Letter Of Intent with our team for the next three seasons, his agent wrote an email to the team in mid-December stating he had decided to race for another bike brand,” the second statement from the team read. “Mr. Gwin confirmed his agreement with our team in public statements, and he and his agent repeatedly confirmed the existence of, and commitment to, the agreement in written correspondence with us. Yet, only weeks before the team was required to submit the official team roster to UCI, Mr. Gwin informed the team that he was abandoning TWR in total disregard of his contractual obligations.”
Gwin’s statement acknowledges his signing of a letter of intent, but he claims that the terms discussed were not present within the formal contract that was presented in November.
“Reports that I broke my contract with 23 Degrees/Trek World Racing are false,” he writes. “My contract expired. The one-page letter of intent I signed said there would be a ‘full length contract’ within ‘precise terms’ coming in the future. The 16-page contract that showed up in late November was not signed by me because it was not the deal we had made.”
“I have moved to a team that gave me the contract I wanted, and these are the facts,” Gwin continued, adding that he lived up to his contract and was fully committed to the team during his time with Trek. “I hope everyone understands that I cannot talk any further about this at this time, but I felt like I needed to clear the air a bit, without getting too much into the legal stuff. Thanks to all the fans who have stood behind me.”
Trek Bicycles, the title sponsor of the Trek World Racing team, is for its part attempting to stay out of the tussle.
“Right now it’s a dispute between the team and Aaron,” said Trek’s Eric Bjorling. “Obviously we’re disappointed, but it’s up to those to parties to resolve right now.”