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Violinist banned from ski races for Olympic cheating

Vanessa Mae — the classical violinist who won cross-over pop stardom — has been banned for four years by the International Ski Federation for competing in races rigged to help her qualify for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

The International Ski Federation, known as the FIS, found “to its comfortable satisfaction” that a series of races in Slovenia in January were manipulated. Based on those races, Mae earned enough qualifying points to compete at the Games, the Telegraph said.

She represented Thailand and raced in the women’s giant-slalom in Sochi under the name Vanessa Vanakorn.

Mae placed last out of the 67 competitors.

The thirty-six-year-old entertainer was born in Singapore to a Chinese mother and a Thai father. She grew up in London and is a British citizen.

Mae has sold millions of albums and regularly fills big venues for live concerts. Her net worth is reported to be about $50 million.

An FIS statement said: “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 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 FIS said Mae’s management company and the Thailand Olympic Committee asked Slovenia to organize races so she could to meet the Olympic qualifying criteria.

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 Telegraph said.

The FIS said two giant-slalom races on January 19 included the name of a competitor who wasn’t there. Another competitor who fell during the race was awarded second place, with a time adjustment of more than 10 seconds.

The FIS also said weather conditions were so bad on the days of the four races that under normal circumstances the events would have been cancelled.

In the four races, Mae placed 6th, 7th, 9th, and 10th, earning her nearly 500 FIS points.

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

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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