July 11, 2014 / 1:58 PM / 5 years ago

Slovenia probes Mae's Olympic qualifying races

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Four Slovenian officials have been suspended for ‘irregularities’ in Alpine ski races used by pop violinist Vanessa Mae to qualify for the Sochi Winter Olympics, the national skiing association said on Friday.

Vanessa Mae, competing for Thailand under her father's name Vanessa Vanakorn, reacts in the finish area after competing in the first run of the women's alpine skiing giant slalom event during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center February 18, 2014. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

“We discovered there were a number of irregularities in the competition in which Vanessa Mae qualified,” Slovenian Ski Association head Jurij Zurej told Reuters on Friday.

“Therefore we decided that four officials involved in the competition cannot cooperate with the association for a period of four years.

“We have no indication whatsoever that Vanessa Mae or any other skier would be involved in those irregularities,” said Zurej, who added that the matter had been placed in the hands of the local police.

Mae, a British citizen, competed for Thailand at the Games in Russia in February under her father’s surname of Vanakorn, finishing a distant last of the 67 finishers in the giant slalom.

The 35-year-old Singapore-born celebrity musician caused a stir on the Rosa Khutor piste but her time was 50.10 seconds slower than Slovenian gold medalist Tina Maze.

She had qualified for the Olympics only at the very last moment after competing in four giant slaloms in Slovenia at the end of January that gave her the ranking points needed to be eligible.

Zurej said the irregularities included the fact that the Slovenian association was stated as one of the organizers of the competition although it was not.

Results had probably been falsified, he added, since they included one skier who had not taken part. The races had also taken place in irregular weather conditions.

The governing International Ski Federation, based in Switzerland, said it was awaiting details.

“Unfortunately, at this time, FIS has not yet received the official report from the Slovenian Ski Association and cannot comment on the decision until a full review is made,” a spokeswoman said. “We expect to receive the report next week.”

Mae’s representatives were not immediately available for comment.

Writing and additional reporting by Alan Baldwin; editing by Josh Reich

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