News 15th November 2014

Vanessa Mae to appeal ban

Classical violinist Vanessa Mae has said that she will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against a four-year ban imposed by the international ski federation (FIS) for breaking its rules in order to ensure qualification for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. “When I heard the news, it was just before a show in Prague”, said Mae in a statement emailed from her management company yesterday. “It turned out to be one of my best shows, and I believe that suffering a nasty experience can be turned into positive inspiration. I am new to the politics of the ski racing world but clearly the International Ski Federation sanction against me is nonsensical, so the matter is now with my lawyers and we will of course be appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. We have no further comment at this time.”

The FIS Hearing Panel found that the results of four ladies giant slalom races that took place on 18/19 January 2014 at Krvavec, Slovenia were manipulated in order to ensure that Mae qualified for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, 7-23 February. ‘The competitions were organised at the request of the management of Vanessa Vanakorn [Mae], through the Thai Olympic Committee in its capacity as the FIS member National Ski Association’, read an 11 November FIS statement. ‘The Krvavec competitions were the last opportunity for Vanessa Vanakorn to achieve the necessary FIS points to qualify for the Olympic Winter Games, Sochi 2014.’

The FIS Council is meeting on 18 November to consider a recommendation from the Hearing Panel to annul the results of, and points gained from, the four competitions that took place in Krvavec in January. This is due to FIS anti-corruption rules which state that such action must be recommended when two or more participants combine to breach FIS rules.

‘In the event that the results of the competitions are annulled, Vanessa Vanakorn (THA), Federica Selva (RSM [San Marino]) and Ieva Januskeviciute (LTU) would not have achieved the necessary FIS point performance level to be eligible to participate in the Olympic Winter Games’, read the FIS statement. ‘This information has been communicated to the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’.

After a 3 October hearing and after considering written submissions and testimony, the Hearing Panel found that:

• The results of two giant slalom races on 19 January included a competitor who was not present at, and did not participate in the Krvavec Competitions.
• Another competitor was placed 2nd in one race despite the fact she fell. Her time is understood to have been adjusted afterwards by more than 10 seconds.
• At least one competitor 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.
• A previously retired competitor with the best FIS points in the competition took part for the sole purpose of lowering the penalty to the benefit the participants in the races.
• The 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.
• The race courses were not changed for the second runs as is required by the FIS rules.
• Approximately 23 competitors participated in the two races held on 18 January 2014, however at least two competitors on the official results were not in attendance.
• Only eight competitors were on the start list for the two races on January 19, and only six achieved a result.

As such, the following sanctions were also issued. Borut Hrobat, Chief of Race (Slovenia), received a two year ban from participation in any FIS sanctioned events worldwide; Fabio De Cassan, the FIS Technical Delegate (Italy), received a one year ban from participation in any FIS sanctioned events worldwide; Matiaz Goltez, the Chief of Timing (Slovenia), received a one year ban from participation in any FIS sanctioned events worldwide; Vlado Makuc, the Referee (Slovenia), received a one year ban from participation in any FIS sanctioned events worldwide; and Uros Sinkovec, the Starter (Slovenia), received a one year ban from participation in any FIS sanctioned events worldwide.

The IOC has said that it will not comment on the case until all possible appeals are completed. In May 2014, Mae was appointed as a cultural expert by the IOC as part of its Olympic Agenda 2020 programme, which is designed to shape the future of the Olympic movement. She was also a guest of honour at the IOC’s first-ever President’s Dinner, in February this year.

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