Doubts raised over Vanessa Mae Sochi 2014 qualification after Slovenian officials suspended for “race fixing”

 

The Slovenian Ski Association has suspended four of its officials amid claims they rigged a number of races to ensure world famous violinist Vanessa Mae qualified to compete in Alpine skiing events at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

The Singaporean-born British star competed at the Olympics as Vanessa Vanakorn for Thailand as a result of her natural father being a Thai citizen, going on to finish last out of 67 competitors in the giant slalom event in Sochi.

Mae, 35, qualified for the Games just days before the deadline after taking part in a series of races in Slovenia on January 18 and 19.

Thailand had no skiers ranked in the world’s top 500 at the time, allowing it to send one man and one woman to compete in slalom and giant slalom at the Games provided they produced an average of 140 points or less over a series of International Ski Federation (FIS) races.

Men’s alpine skier Kanes Sucharitakul qualified to represent Thailand while Mae achieved the qualifying standard in the races held in Krvavcu.

However, Slovenia’s ski governing body has revealed those results may now be in doubt after it uncovered evidence officials had falsified times and rankings “at the behest of Thai ski officials”.

“The starting list included a person who did not even compete, a racer who fell was registered as finishing high in the standings,” said Slovenian Ski Association President Jurij Zurej.

“In addition, the dates of the competitions did not match the actual state when the races were held.”

Zurej pointed out that Mae might not have known about the violations and it is not being suggested she colluded in the alleged wrongdoing at this stage.

The Slovenian Ski Association has imposed provisional four-year bans on the four officials in question who include the head of the country’s Alpine skiing body, Vlado Makuc.

An investigation has been launched by the Slovenian Ski Association which will involve the country’s police and the findings will be sent to FIS.

FIS President, Gian Franco Kasper expressed his disappointment at the alleged cheating adding: “We have told the Slovenian ski federation that for the time being they should go into the details and find out what their own people did and determine domestic sanctions.

“Then we will decide what we have to do on our side.

“We have no proof for the time being.”

When contacted by insidethegames, the International Olympic Committee refused to comment saying it was “a matter for the Slovenian Ski Federation and eventually FIS”.

Earlier this year, Mae was invited by IOC President Thomas Bach to join a Working Group on Culture as part of the Agenda 2020 reform process.

Mae shot to fame in the 1990s as a talented pianist and violinist and became the youngest soloist ever to record the demanding Beethoven and Tchaikovsky violin concertos when she was 13.

A spokesman for Mae, who is estimated to have a personal fortune of £40 million ($66 million/€48 million), told insidethegames that the star was “in a remote destination and is unavailable for comment.”

Giles Holland continued: “Neither Vanessa nor I are in a position of authority to comment on details or rules, but the question about how it is possible for a Thai Ski Championship to be held in Slovenia has already cropped up a couple of times.

“Apparently, it is common for nations, especially those with no mountains, to hold their own ski races in other countries.

“It is even usual for an athlete’s own trainer to set the race course, as in Sochi.

“As far as I am aware, in this case at Krvavec, Vanessa and a skier representing San Marino both thankfully managed to qualify for Sochi.

“At the last minute, this was a blessing after so many races in the lead up had been cancelled due to bad snow conditions.

“Thailand also sent another skier to Sochi after he found good qualifying races in Turkey.

“The 2014 Winter Olympics were a big success, and we were all fortunate to be there and to also feel the overwhelming support in person.

“Last winter now feels like a lifetime ago and Vanessa is currently enjoying other activities.”

This article first appeared in Inside the Games and has been reproduced with permission. The original article can be viewed by clicking here.

 

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