A media statement was released by Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) yesterday (9 April) on their website regarding the allegations made by marathoner Soh Rui Yong towards SNOC’s nomination of one of Singapore’s representatives in the SEA Games 2015 marathon event, Ashley Liew, for the Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy.
SNOC recounted the events that happened, leading up to the circumstances today. In November 2015, SNOC decided to nominate Liew for his act of sportsmanship in slowing down for some runners to catch up after taking the wrong route during the SEA Games race.
SNOC ascertained that the nomination was “based on the verified accounts of various witnesses” and “no one had at the time, sought to cast any doubt on these accounts”. Liew’s “act of fair play” was widely reported in the press and television (including an interview with The 5 Show) and was later awarded the trophy in September 2016.
On 21 October last year, Soh, who was the gold medalist of the SEA Games marathon then, posted serious allegations on the International Fair Play Committee’s Facebook page that Liew had engaged in “conjuring, exaggerating and circulating a fictional tale of sportsmanship” during the race. Soh repeated these allegations in his blog post and on his Facebook page as well.
SNOC stated that Soh’s allegations “in effect implied that SNOC’s nomination of Mr Liew was flawed, without justification, made arbitrarily, and without the exercise of proper judgment.” SNOC carried out a full and thorough investigation through its lawyers and managed to acquire statutory declarations from four eyewitnesses
“Each of them positively affirmed that they saw Mr Liew slowing down to allow some of the runners who had fallen behind him due to taking the wrong route, to catch up. One of these eyewitnesses was himself a participant in that same race. We highly commend these individuals for their civic-mindedness and willingness to come forward with their statutory declarations,” SNOC clarified in the statement.
Last week on 1st of April, SNOC served Soh a legal letter demanding for a retraction and apology for his claims towards Liew by 8 April.
On that very day around 5.03 pm, Soh’s representing firm of Eugene Thuraisingam LLP informed SNOC’s lawyer from Rajah & Tann that Soh refused to retract or withdraw his allegations and will not take up their offer to view the statutory declarations from the witnesses interviewed by SNOC.
In light of this, SNOC deduced that they have taken the necessary steps to maintain the truth and that the matter depends on Liew’s further action to vindicate his reputation with Soh.
“Mr Soh’s continued refusal to acknowledge that he was wrong in his allegations about Mr Liew, and his rejection of the opportunity to retract and withdraw his false allegations, reflects poorly on him as an individual and as an athlete who is supposed to serve as an example to the sporting youth of his country,” SNOC concluded its statement.