Violinist Vanessa-Mae Banned from Skiing
Pop star participated in fixed races to qualify for Sochi Olympics
Vanessa-Mae caused a stir last winter when she qualified at the last minute to compete in the women’s giant slalom at the Sochi Games. Now she’s back in the news for being banned from competitive skiing for four years after the International Ski Federation (FIS) concluded that her qualifying races were fixed.
The 36-year-old pop violinist and longtime skier was able to represent Thailand, her father’s birthplace, after skiing well in a series of races in Krvavec, Slovenia, in January. She went on to finish last of 67 competitors in the giant slalom at Sochi.
Over the summer, the Slovenian Ski Association announced an investigation into Vanessa-Mae’s qualifying races. At the time, an official told the Guardian that the races were “fixed at the behest of Thai ski officials to meet her qualifying criteria for Sochi.”
This week, an FIS panel found that the results of the Slovenia races were manipulated, according to the BBC. The panel banned Vanessa-Mae as well as five closely involved officials for varying periods.
The FIS investigation found ample evidence of fraud at the impromptu qualifiers in Slovenia. The BBC listed several violations: The race results included a competitor who was not present, the second-place finisher’s time was adjusted by more than 10 seconds to account for a fall, the weather conditions were so severe that “any comparable competition in Slovenia would have been canceled,” and a previously retired skier took part solely to lower the penalty for other competitors.
The four-year ban will effectively end Vanessa-Mae’s Olympic career, FIS president Gian Franco Kasper told the Associated Press.