Alpine skiing: Vanessa Mae wins ski ban appeal

Alpine skiing: Vanessa Mae wins ski ban appeal
A file picture taken on February 18, 2014 shows Thailand's Vanessa Mae reacting after the Women's Alpine Skiing Giant Slalom Run 2 at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center during the Sochi Winter Olympics.
PHOTO: AFP

LAUSANNE - The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Friday overturned a four-year ban from competing in skiing imposed on renowned violinist Vanessa Mae when she was accused of manipulating results.

The sports tribunal found there was "insufficient evidence" to back the International Ski Federation (FIS) sanction. But it backed the FIS decision to rule as invalid Mae's results at the Sochi Winter Olympics last year because of the "defective" results of her qualifying events.

Mae, competing under her family name of Vanessa Vanakorn, came 67th and last in the women's giant slalom at the Olympics.

The 36-year-old music star, who has sold millions of albums, became Thailand's first ever female Olympic skier when she competed in Russia.

But Mae, born in Singapore to Thai and Chinese parents, was handed the ban by FIS in November after the body had established that her qualifying event, held in a blizzard in January in Slovenia, in southeastern Europe, was riddled with irregularities.

The FIS said that 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".

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.

In Friday's ruling, the CAS Panel "accepted the position of the FIS that a number of irregularities had occurred in the organisation and management of the four races in question, but could not find, to its comfortable satisfaction, evidence of any manipulation by Vanessa Vanakorn herself that justified the guilty finding and the imposition of a four-year ban".

"The CAS Panel held that the competitions in Krvavec, notwithstanding the fact that Ms Vanakorn herself was not guilty of any manipulation, were so defective that their results and qualification points gained therefrom could not stand." The CAS panel added that FIS had been right to annul the competition results meaning that "Vanessa Vanakorn remains ineligible to compete in the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games".

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