Vienna - Glamorous violinist Vanessa Mae's dreams of becoming a professional
skier took a major tumble Tuesday after she was banned for four years
over her rigged qualification for the Thai team at the Sochi Winter
The International Skiing Federation (FIS) said that a hearing panel
had established that the qualifying event, held in a blizzard in January
2014 in Slovenia in southeastern Europe, was riddled with
The "manipulated" races on January 18-19 resulted in points
calculations "that do not reflect the true performance of the
competitors that participated ... and in particular the points awarded
to Vanessa Vanakorn (Mae)," the FIS said.
Mae, 36, a former child prodigy with the violin born in Singapore to
Thai and Chinese parents but who grew up in Britain, was given a
four-year ban from participation in any FIS-sanctioned events worldwide.
Two giant slalom races in the Krvavec resort on January 19 were
recorded as involving a competitor who was not present, while someone
else who fell over was placed second after having 10 seconds taken off
her time, the FIS said.
Other problems included at least one competitor who 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," the FIS said
in a statement.
A previously retired competitor with the best FIS points in the
competition took part for the sole purpose of lowering the penalty for
the other participants, and the race courses were not changed for the
second runs as stipulated by the FIS.
In addition, 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.
FIS banned Slovenia's Borut Hrobat, in charge of the race, for two
years, while FIS technical delegate Fabio De Cassan of Italy, Slovenia's
race timer Matiaz Goltez, referee Vlado Makuc and starter Uros Sinkovec
were all banned for a year.
As Thailand's first ever female skier at an Olympic Games in the
Russian resort of Sochi in February, Mae racing under her father's
surname Vanakorn - made headlines and added a splash of glamour to the
But unlike her successful music career with millions of album sold,
her performance on the piste as one half of the Thai team was
underwhelming, coming 67th and last in the giant slalom, far behind the
rest of the field.
"I expected to be last but at the end of the day the Olympics is a great opportunity," she said at the time.
"I nearly crashed three times, but I made it down and that was the main thing."
Mae has described music as her "lifelong passion" but skiing as her "lifelong hobby".
The FIS said she has 21 days to appeal the decision.