VIENNA (AFP) – Thailand’s Vanessa Mae has been banned from skiing competitively for four years after being found guilty of manipulating results in order to qualify for the Winter Olympics, the International Skiing Federation (FIS) said Tuesday.
FIS investigators concluded that results were manipulated during trials in Slovenia to enable the 35-year-old violinist, skiing under her real name Vanessa Mae Vanakorn, to compete in the Russian resort of Sochi in February, a statement said.
The FIS report discovered a number of anomalies, including a skier who had fallen being included in the final standings.
The weather conditions had been so bad that no regular race could be held and “any comparable competition in Slovenia would have been cancelled” according to the competition referee.
And the race courses were not changed for the second runs as required by the FIS rules.
“After considering written submissions and testimony at a hearing on 3rd October 2014, the Hearing Panel found to its comfortable satisfaction that the results of the four ladies giant slalom races that took place on 18th and 19th January 18 2014 at Krvavec (SLO) were manipulated, resulting in the calculation of FIS Points that do not reflect the true performance of the competitors that participated in those events and in particular the points awarded to Vanessa Vanakorn (Mae),” the statement added.
“In the event that the results of the competitions are annulled, Vanessa Vanakorn (THA), Federica Selva (RSM) and Ieva Januskeviciute (LTU) would not have achieved the necessary FIS point performance level to be eligible to participate in the Olympic Winter Games.”
FIS also banned a number of officials over the incident.
Slovenia’s Borut Hrobat, in charge of the race, was banned for two years, while FIS technical delegate Fabio De Cassan of Italy, Slovenia’s race timer Matiaz Goltez, referee Vlado Makuc and starter Uros Sinkovec were all banned for a year.
The four Slovenians had been suspended by their national federation in July.
The federation report at the time documented irregularities ranging from falsified starting lists and rankings and even race dates, but federation president president Jurij Zurej said there was no evidence that “the competitor for whom the races had been fixed knew about these violations”.
“We have no evidence that a bribe was given… there are signs that money was paid but we still do not know for what purpose,” he added.
In Sochi, the Singapore-born British former child prodigy who admitted she had begun training just six months before the Olympics, came 67th and last in the giant slalom, far behind the rest of the field.
“I expected to be last but at the end of the day the Olympics is a great opportunity,” she said.
“I nearly crashed three times, but I made it down and that was the main thing.”
She has described music as her “lifelong passion” but skiing as her “lifelong hobby.”
Although a British citizen, strict British Olympic Association rules on team selection for alpine skiing saw Mae take Thai citizenship in her bid to make the Olympics.