Ski ban for Mae over fixed races

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Published: Tuesday 11th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Classical violinist Vanessa Mae has been given a four-year ban by the International Ski Federation for taking part in races which were fixed to help her qualify for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

The governing body said its hearing panel found “to its comfortable satisfaction” that the results of a series of races in Slovenia in January were manipulated in order for Mae – who has sold millions of records worldwide – to achieve the qualifying points required to compete at the Games.

The 36-year-old violinist, who was representing Thailand and competing under her father’s name, Vanakorn, took part in the women’s giant-slalom in Sochi and finished last out of the 67 competitors.

Singapore-born Mae, who has a Chinese mother and Thai father and was raised in London, became just the third person to compete for Thailand at a Winter Olympics.

But the FIS found the races in Slovenia were organised at the request of Mae’s management company and the Thailand Olympic Committee in order to enable her to meet the qualifying criteria.

An FIS statement read: “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).”

In July, the Slovenian Ski Association suspended four of its officials and announced an investigation into alleged improprieties regarding the results of the races concerned. The FIS upheld the Slovenians’ findings.

Ranking points accrued by all competitors in the respective races have been annulled. The FIS confirmed that without the points in question, Mae would not have been eligible to compete in Sochi.

Mae achieved worldwide fame by combining classical and pop music and has collaborated with such pop stars as Janet Jackson and Prince.

She has sold more than eight million albums worldwide, earning more than 40 international platinum awards.

Mae was a skier before she played the violin, she told The Daily Telegraph in a 2010 interview.

“I started skiing around the same time as I began playing the piano, at around four, before moving to the violin at five,” she said.

“It has been my dream (to ski in the Olympics), and I am hoping people will accept I just want to give it my best.

“I know I am always going to be a few points behind the top guys. I am taking a plunge.

“I am British, but realistically there is no way I could represent my own country, but because my natural father is Thai, they have accepted me.”

Published: Tuesday 11th November 2014 by The News Editor

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