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Four arrested in Slovenia over Vanessa Mae Olympic scam

Jul 12. 2014
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By Agence France-Presse

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Slovenia's ski association has suspended four officials for manipulating race results to allow famed violinist Vanessa Mae to compete at the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February.

The 35-year-old Mae, racing under the name Vanessa Vanakorn, came last in the Olympic giant slalom on February 18 but made headlines as Thailand's first ever female skier at Olympic Games and lent an added dose of glamour to the sports event.

In a report late Thursday, the ski association (SZS) said it had found evidence that races held in Slovenia earlier this year had been fixed to make sure Vanakorn could travel to Sochi.

The fixing was done at the request of Thai officials, the SZS added.

The four suspects in the scam, who face suspensions of up to four years, included Vlado Makuc, head of alpine skiing at the SZS, the federation also said.

The report, which documents irregularities ranging from falsified starting lists and rankings to even race dates, will now be forwarded to the police and to the International Ski Federation (FIS), SZS president Jurij Zurej added.

He said, however, there was no evidence that "the competitor for whom the races had been fixed knew about these violations".

"We have no evidence that a bribe was given... there are signs that money was paid but we still do not know for what purpose," he added.

Countries that have no skiers in the world top 500 may send one male and one female athlete to the Olympics if they have an average of no more than 140 points over five internationally recognised races.

A stronger performance earns fewer points, but before racing in Slovenia, Vanakorn mostly averaged between 230 and 270 points.

In Sochi, the Singapore-born British former child prodigy who admitted she had begun training just six months before the Olympics, came 67th and last in the giant slalom, far behind the rest of the field.

"I nearly crashed three times, but I made it down and that was the main thing," she said, bubbling with joy.

She has described music as her "lifelong passion" but skiing as her "lifelong hobby."


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