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Phuket: Thais deny rigging allegations

Phuket: Thais deny rigging allegations

WINTER OLYMPICS: Thai Olympic officials have denied any part in the alleged rigging of results that allowed violinist Vanessa-Mae to ski for the country in the 2014 Winter Olympics.

By Bangkok Post

Tuesday 15 July 2014, 11:02AM

The Slovenian Ski Association (SZS) on Friday (July 11) suspended four of its officials for manipulating the skier’s qualifying results for the Sochi Olympics and claimed that the fixing was done “at the behest of Thai ski officials”.

It said it found no evidence that Vanessa-Mae, a world-famous pop violinist whose father is Thai, was aware of the tampering.

SZS president Jurij Zurej said there were signs that money was paid but we still do not know for what purpose.

The violinist competed in the event for Thailand as Vanessa Vanakorn. Vanakorn is the surname of her Thai father.

Gen Yutthasak Sasiprabha, president of the National Olympic Committee of Thailand, yesterday said no Thai officials including any NOCT members were involved in the alleged scam.

“Our duty was only to endorse her and send her to compete the Games,” he said, adding that Thailand has no ski association in charge of the sport.

“Because we don’t have a skiing sport association, what we did was to look at the documentation and endorse her for the Games,” Gen Yutthasak said.

“We did not even know the qualifying process.”

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NOCT vice-president Charoen Wattanasin said the problem could stem from an internal conflict within the Slovenian sports organisations.

“I believe it was their internal conflict,” he said, adding that Vanessa’s manager contacted the NOCT to seek its endorsement after she finished the qualifying events.

“She joined the qualifying events by herself. It had nothing to do with Thai officials,” he said.

To earn enough points to be eligible for the Games in February, she had to compete in official races in Sweden, Norway, Slovenia and Switzerland.

In Sochi, the Singapore-born Briton, 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". Bangkok Post

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