FORMER pop violinist Vanessa Mae has been banned from skiing for four years after it was found that her management had rigged races to ensure she qualified for this year’s Winter Olympics.
British-raised Mae, 36, went on to compete as Vanessa Vanakorn for Thailand at the Sochi Games, where she finished last of 67 competitors in the giant slalom.
International skiing body the FIS said its investigation found that four qualifying races held in Slovenia in January, just weeks before the winter Olympics, were manipulated to ensure Mae achieved the required standard.
“At first we were laughing when we heard it,” said FIS president Gian Franco Kasper. “But then we realized it’s quite a serious thing. Those who have been sanctioned have been sanctioned for good reason.”
Mae, who sold more than 10m records worldwide, was not expected to attempt to compete at the next Winter Olympics in 2018, to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, but is now forbidden from doing so, pending any possible appeals.
“It doesn’t make much difference for her,” Kasper added. “She was racing probably only once and that’s all. But in any case we prevented her from being at the next Olympics.”
Five officials involved in staging the races also received bans. The FIS said the manipulation comprised of times being altered and in some cases invented for competitors who were not present.
Mae, who was born in Singapore to Chinese and Thai parents but is a British citizen, has 21 days to appeal to the FIS or the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.