Vanessa-Mae has been banned from international skiing competitions for four years after the sport’s governing body found she used sham races to qualify for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Mae is a 36-year-old Thai-British violinist who raced for Thailand under the name Vanessa Vanakorn in Sochi.
She was held up as one of the Olympics’ most heartwarming stories, despite finishing dead last in the giant slalom. She was the oldest skier in the competition, and told reporters it was her “dream” to make the Olympics.
“You’ve got the elite skiers of the world and then you’ve got some mad old woman like me trying to make it down,” she told the Independent. “I think it’s great the Olympics is here, it gives you the chance to try something new later in life.”
According to the FIS ruling, she only qualified for the Olympics after results were manipulated at four races in Krvavec, Slovenia in January of 2014.
The races were organised at the request of Mae’s management. The FIS ruled that times were fixed, skiers who weren’t there were listed as participants, basic rules weren’t followed, and the weather was so bad that some of the races couldn’t have taken place.
Mae finished in the top 10 in all four races, earning her enough FIS points to get into the Olympic giant slalom race. She never finished better than 20th before that, and finished 63rd at a race in Italy just six days before.
Here’s the list of findings from the FIS report:
- “The results of two giant slalom races on 19th January included a competitor who was not present at, and did not participate in the Krvavec Competitions.”
- “Another competitor was placed 2nd in one race despite the fact she fell. Her time is understood to have been adjusted afterwards by more than 10 seconds.”
- “At least one competitor started away from the starting gate outside the automatic timing wand that was manually opened by the starter when she was already on the course.”
- “A previously retired competitor with the best FIS points in the competition took part for the sole purpose of lowering the penalty to the benefit the participants in the races.”
- “The weather conditions were so bad that no regular race could be held and “any comparable competition in Slovenia would have been cancelled” according to the competition referee.”
- “The races courses were not changed for the second runs as is required by the FIS rules.”
- “Approximately 23 competitors participated in the two races held on 18th January 2014, however at least two competitors on the official results were not in attendance.”
- “Only eight competitors were on the start list for the two races on January 19th 2014 and only six achieved a result.”
Five other people — a race chief, technical delegate, timing chief, starter, and referee — were also banned between one and two years.
The cut off the qualify for the Olympics was January 20th. The four races in question happened between January 17th and 19th.
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