The International Ski Federation has banned violinist Vanessa Mae for four years for taking part in fixed races to qualify for the Sochi Olympics.

FIS says its hearing panel "found to its comfortable satisfaction'' that results of four giant slalom races were manipulated in January in Slovenia.

"Those who have been sanctioned have been sanctioned for good reason,'' FIS President Gian Franco Kasper told The Associated Press. "At first we were laughing when we heard it. But then we realised it's quite a seriousthing.''

FIS details several rule-breaking incidents that rigged results to help Mae falsely improve her results.

"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,'' FIS said.

Race officials also broke rules by not changing the course design between the first and second runs, and allowing skiers to continue in poor weather which required abandonment.

Without the cheating, Mae "would not have achieved the necessary FIS point performance level to be eligible to participate in the Olympic Winter Games".

In Sochi, the celebrity musician raced for Thailand as Vanessa Vanakorn, using the last name of her Thai father. She finished last of 67 racers in the two-run giant slalom.

FIS also banned five other officials for between one and two years for cheating.

Mae can appeal the rulings to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Source: AP