The management team of Marathoner Ashley Liew, ONEathlete Team, assailed SEA Games champion Soh Rui Yong for his refusal to withdraw his “false allegations” against Liew as “a wilful act of blatant disregard, poor sportsmanship and improper conduct”.

In a media statement on Tuesday (2 April), ONEathlete said that it would “examine all legal options available to Ashley in light of current developments”.

This came shortly after the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) – who awarded Liew two sportsmanship medals – served Soh a legal letter demanding for a public retraction and admission of his claims “by no later than 5 pm, 8 April 2019”.

In October last year, Soh disputed Liew’s account of events at the 2015 SEA Games in a Facebook post. Liew was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy when he mentioned that he has slowed down to wait for his rivals to catch up after they took the wrong turn.

Soh’s claims were backed up by Filipino runner Rafael Poliquit who was present in the SEA Games race and two witnesses who had coached Soh before. However, the SNOC’s legal letter stated, through its solicitors Rajah & Tann, that four unnamed “independent” individuals among other witnesses have provided sworn statutory declarations to prove the contrary.

ONEathlete remarked that Soh had “continued to maintain his allegations insinuating that Ashley had lied”. They said the allegations had “no material basis”, and questioned Soh’s motives.

“Soh’s allegations had unfairly cast doubt over ONEathlete, Ashley Liew’s repute as an individual, working professional and national athlete, as well as the merit and integrity of nominating Ashley for and the eventual award of the Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy in 2016.”

“Such an approach by Soh only serves as an aggravating factor to his initial conduct of falsely accusing another athlete of lying, and in so doing, has brought the sport into disrepute,” ONEathlete said.

It added: “Soh’s refusal to retract his false allegations in the face of the four statutory declarations is an extension of his wilful act of blatant disregard, poor sportsmanship and improper conduct which goes against Singapore Athletics’ Athlete’s Code of Conduct.”

Meanwhile, the SNOC upheld Liew’s nomination for the award.

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